Injured blue whale

Blue whale with possible boat propeller injury

After ranting about the importance of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) two posts ago, I wanted to share this photo of an injured blue whale. I took this photo on a whale watching trip out of Redondo Beach on the Voyager. You can see the big white gash down the left side of the whale.

Another naturalist, Linda Barkley, really studied her photos and concluded that there are two blue whales hanging around Santa Monica Bay with similar gashes, but one has the gash on the left and the other on the right. These nasty injuries are the fallout from hanging too close to shore near a problematic species: humans.

The gash looks like a clean slice from a boat propeller. The white in the gash is exposed blubber and it’s hard to tell in the smaller version of the photo, but there is pinkish red coloring too indicating bleeding. This whale will most likely survive, but who knows how this injury could affect a blue whale in the future. (I’ve seen photos of whales with much worse injuries, even one that no longer had any flukes, just a stump at the end of the tail!)

You may be thinking…oh it’s a blue whale for crying out loud, the largest animal on earth with layers of blubber, he can take it no problem. But that’s not true at all. Whales are extremely sensitive to touch, I read a story about a right whale that flinched from the touch of a researcher’s finger. And right whales have even more blubber than blue whales.

So what’s the point of this story? Please follow the MMPA and stay 100 yards away from blue whales at all times. That’s really the least we can do after everything we’ve done in the past.

(For more detailed information on blue whales here’s a link to the column I wrote Blue Whales: the largest animals to ever live on earth.)

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