A female northern right whale dolphin washed up on the beach in Manzanita, Ore., on the 9th of June. Only four other of these “unique” dolphins have been spotted by the Sea Aquarium since 1995.
(Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium via AP)
A rare female northern right whale dolphin washed up on an Oregon beach last week, leaving experts guessing how the creature, seen only four times on the coastline in the last 20 years, has died.
The Sea Aquarium said the 5-foot-long female was discovered at Manzanita Beach and transferred to Portland State University to undergo a necropsy — an autopsy performed on animals, but the first results were not convincing.
“Although sad, this has given us a unique opportunity to learn a little more about this incredible species,” the Sea Aquarium wrote on Facebook.
First identified in the 19th century, the species looks like a cross between a killer whale and the bottlenose dolphin, according to the Oregonian. The dolphin lacks a dorsal fin, it appears black with a white stripe on her underbelly.
The right whale dolphin is known to his home in the water further south and deeper into the offshore, ranging in the North Pacific from the far east such as Japan, Alaska and Mexico, according to the paper.
Documented movements correspond with changes in the temperature of the water, moving south when the water is cold and north when they are warm, experts said.
“Although sad, this has given us a unique opportunity to learn a little more about this incredible species.”
– The officials of the Sea Aquarium
The aquarium said the biggest threat to these dolphins face are of high seas drift nets, which were believed to be responsible for 24 to 73 percent of the population fall. Drift nets were recently required by law in Oregon and California to issue acoustic warnings in the water to reduce by-catch.
The social species normally travel in groups of 200 to 300, but can sometimes be spotted with 2000 other whales, dolphins, leaving experts wondering how the woman came to the shore, the aquarium said.
The aquarium was awaiting further test results to reduce the cause of the death.