I was flying on Monday and found a giant beached dead humpback whale up on the mudflats near Birchwood. I see belugas all the time but never a humpback.
Cliff Belleau & Mark Baker writes:
I was flying on Monday and found a giant beached dead humpback whale up on the mudflats near Birchwood. I see belugas all the time but never a humpback. We were test flying new helicopter modifications when we found the whale. It was on the west side of the inlet about a mile above the Birchwood airport. When we returned from the flight Cliff called NOAA to report it and they thought it might be a whale that had been caught by a ship, and the ship tied it off, but then when they got into the Anchorage Port, the whale was gone. NOAA asked that when we went out again, we check closely to see if there was a rope on it, to confirm that it was probably the whale hit by the ship. When we went back I hovered all around it, and by this time it was half in and out of the water (as you see here) but we were able to finally see a small rope. So they think it is that whale. When I first found it around noon time it was completely beached and stuck on a mud bar. When we returned the tide had come in a bit and floated it into the position in the pictures. My guess is that it has probably now floated away.I grew up seeing whales out in the Bethel area while flying, and I see belugas frequently but this is the first time seeing one of the “big ones” in Cook Inlet.
Alaska Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network – Report a Stranded/Beached Marine Animal: respond to stranded (sometimes called "beached") marine mammals (whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions), we work with volunteer stranding networks in all coastal states, coordinated by regional marine mammal stranding coordinators.
Alaska SeaLife Center – The Alaska Stranding Network works with the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).This observation has been shared with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game