At the end of May, a unique sight was to be had in the St Lawrence river at Montreal. A large humpback whale was seen cavorting in the old port to the delight of many residents who came to see this most unusual sight.
Although they can get by for a few weeks in fresh water, whales don’t belong there and while thrilling to see, everyone hoped the whale would decide to head back downriver to the salt water estuary several hundred kilometres away where it might typically call ‘home’.
When last Sunday it was spotted a few kilometres downstream, the young whale was thought to be heading home.
This week however, it was spotted dead and floating in the strong current at the eastern tip of Montreal Island.
The whale had seemed healthy and energetic so there were questions as to why it had died so suddenly.
Veterinarians from the Universite de Montreal have made an initial observation and said it appears that the whale had been hit by a ship.
Veterinary pathologist professor Stephane Lair said that although no damage was obvious on the skin, there was trauma to the muscles and blood accumulation, lending creednce to the possibility of blunt force trauma which fatally injured the animal.
Lair said a large ship would likely never see or notice a whale, nor feel a strike especially if it was at night.
He said the whale was a young female between two to three years old. Tissue and other samples from the necropsy will be taken back to the university lab for analysis and a final report on the cause of death which will take up to a month.
additional information- sources
- CBC: J.Yoon: Jun 10/20: Wandering humpback whale likely killed in ship collision, says necropsy team
- Montreal Gazette: J Magdar: Jun 10/20 : Preliminary exam supports suspicion that humpback was struck by a ship
- CTV: Thomas/Ross: Jun 9/20 Veterinarians say boat strike may have killed Montreal’s humpback whale