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Gray Whale Landed on Bandon Beach at Face Rock Wayside December 25, 2011
This sub-adult female whale came ashore Christmas day. The sighting was reported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and volunteers took a blubber sample for DNA and toxicology. Another team came down to inspect the animal's skin to assist them in designing better methods of attaching instrumentation to the skin to gain better research information. Due to the odor, the whale was buried in the sand at the beach on December 29.
This whale was about 38-40 feet long and was rolled on its right side when these photos were taken. The upper right photo shows the nose and folds of skin in the lower mouth. Baleen attached to the upper jaw is shown (the nose is to the left). Whale lice, often congregating in wounds, are present. The body rolling the surf has caused damage to the skin. Barnacles that are normally present are also gone, indicating the whale had been dead for some time.
The blubber sample and other evidence indicated that this whale had been spotted by the Cascadia Research Collective off the Washington coast in 1999. It was also seen at Depoe Bay, Oregon in 2007, and had been tagged in 2009 although the tag was no longer present.
If you guessed that the last photograph is a 6"x8" patch of whale skin, you're right! No wonder it is hard to attach research instrumentation.