Workers of a cruise ship is Alaska were shocked to find a dead fin whale stuck to the front of their bow.
Crew members of a Holland America cruise ship, the Zaandam, noticed something stuck to the bow as they were preparing to dock in Seward at around 5:06 in the morning. After a closer inspection it was determined to be the body of a small whale that somehow managed to become draped over a small part of the bow that protruded under the water.
The crew reported the incident to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who sent investigators along with members of two other marine life organizations to the scene. Upon first glances they believed it was a baby humpback whale, but after closer inspection they found it to be the body of a young endangered fin whale.
The body was collected and sent for an autopsy to see if it died of natural causes and became stuck on the boat or was hit by the ship.
If the boat did strike the whale the crew believes it had to have happened in Resurrection Bay. They said no one reported the whale at 4:36 a.m. when an officer began putting out the mooring platform in Seward's harbor.
Holland America was saddened by the event as they have a very strict "Whale Strike Avoidance Program".
"Our ships have clear guidelines of how to operate if whales are sighted nearby," Sally Andrews a spokeswoman for the cruise line explained to Alaska Dispatch News. "Which include altering course and reducing speed as required. In this case we were not aware of any whales in the area."
Whale strikes, while rare, do happen from time to time in Alaskan waterways.
Fin whales are the second-largest species of whale. They were heavily hunted for commercial whaling specifically in the North Pacific Ocean until 1976. That along with the over fishing of their primary food sources have left their populations to dwindle.