Whales that swam into Sacramento River are injured

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Humpback Whale.

Marine biologists say that the two lost, mother and male calf Humpback Whales that swam into the Sacramento River in Sacramento, California, have sustained injuries from a boat propeller blade and need medical attention if they do not return to their homes in the Pacific Ocean.

The injuries were first spotted when pictures were taken of the whales by biologists at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. They then enlarged all the photographs using a computer and determined the extent of the injuries.

"The injury on the female is about 2 feet long, 6 inches deep, and has sharp edges typical of a propeller wound. We don't think it's life-threatening. The calf has a wound that looks a little bit more severe than the female," said Director of Veterinary Science at the Mammal Center, Frances Gulland who added that the calf was a bit more difficult to assess because the injuries are located on his back side which remains under water.

Biologists will attempt to lure the whales back into the ocean using sounds recorded from other Humpback Whales. A boat will be used to send the sounds underwater during low tide. No boats or ships are allowed in the river during the operation.

The two whales are reported to have traveled from the waters off Baja California, Mexico.