A humpback whale is found stranded in California following a collision

A well-known humpback whale from the American West Coast was found stranded on 8/29/2022 in Halfmoon Bay on the coast of California. This humpback whale was nicknamed “Fran” (or CRC-12049) and was a well-known female in the region. She had been regularly observed over the years (she was the second most reported humpback whale on the Happywhale platform), she had been seen 277 times between 2005 and 2022 mostly offshore of California and Mexico.

The Marine Mammal Center conducted a necropsy on the animal and determined that it died as a result of a collision with a ship. 

“This humpback whale had an extensive contusion on its right chest, a fractured first cervical vertebra and its skull was dislocated from the spine,” said Pádraig Duignan, director of pathology at the Marine Mammal Center, in a press release. He also said the whale was in excellent physical condition.

Ship strikes are the main cause of unnatural mortality in large cetaceans worldwide. The survival of certain species of large cetaceans is directly threatened by shipstrikes. This is notably the case for the North Atlantic right whale. As a reminder, on a global scale, the humpback whale is the second most affected species by collisions with commercial ships.

But there are solutions to limit collisions!

In the Mediterranean, the REPCET® system allows equipped vessels to share in real time the position of cetaceans they observe on their navigation routes. In this way, crews are warned in real time of the presence of cetaceans on their shipping lanes and can make the appropriate maneuvers to avoid a collision.

For more information:

Fran the humpback whale stranded on the Californian coast, ©Padraig Duignan.