Gray whale remains stranded in Turnagain Arm

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A gray whale that for two days fought to free itself from treacherous mud flats near the head of Turnagain Arm has died.

The 25- to 30-foot animal was viewed by hundreds of passers-by who stopped along the Seward Highway.

The whale was spotted Monday in a channel, where it lay grounded all day. By low tide on Tuesday afternoon, the animal had worked its way about two miles downstream a few hundred yards off a pullout near Mile 86 of the Seward Highway.

It's still very thin and acting very weak,'' said Alaska SeaLife Center head veterinarian Pam Tuomi on Tuesday. This may very well be an animal that was debilitated before it stranded itself.''

Gray whales migrate by the thousands each spring up the West Coast on a 5,000-mile journey to feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas.

Marine biologists from the National Marine Fisheries Service will determine what to do with the carcass. Several groups are interested in performing a necropsy.

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