British Columbia

Ship strike likely killed humpback whale found on B.C. shore, biologist says

A broken jawbone suggests a humpback whale that washed up on shore near Ucluelet, B.C. last week was struck by a large vessel before it died, a marine biologist says.

Animal's broken jawbone serves as clue to cause of death

Curtis Fendelet, owner of Mussel Beach Campground where the dead humpback washed up, points to the animal's dislocated jawbone (CHEK News)

Officials say a dead humpback whale that washed up near Ucluelet last week was likely hit by a large vessel.

Scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the juvenile male had its lower jawbone dislocated after being hit with significant force.

"When I hear it's a vessel strike I'm not too surprised because the number of humpbacks are increasing in B.C.," marine biologist Wendy Szaniszlo of the Vancouver Aquarium told CHEK News.

"If that's what happened then it sounds like it was probably a ship versus a smaller vessel, and ship strikes further offshore have been known to kill larger whales."

Curtis Fendelet, who owns the Mussel Beach Campground where the humpback washed up last week, said the carcass has attracted a lot of attention. 

 Fendelet said scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada took note of the dislocated jawbone when they took samples from the dead animal.

"They took some blubber samples and stool samples from the humpback and took an eyeball to see if it was stressed before it died."

With files from CHEK News.