Dead orca leaves killer opportunity

12/28/2011

Wildlife officials are currently investigating the cause of death of an 18-foot killer whale that mysteriously washed ashore at Driftwood Beach, on Tomales Point, late last week. “We’re probably not going to know anything for a while,” said Jim Oswald of the Marine Mammal Center, which is handling the investigation alongside the California Academy of Sciences. Oswald said there were blunt trauma wounds to the whale’s head and chest cavities, but that officials could not be sure if they were incurred prior to it washing ashore or afterwards. DNA samples have been sent to laboratories, but could take months to come back with any definitive results. Oswald noted that it is rare for orca males to wash ashore, “so things like this are kind of like a banzai opportunity” for research on the species.