Young gray whale still stranded in river but NOAA has a plan

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 7:03 PM AKDT
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A young gray whale has been stranded in Twentymile River near Girdwood for several days but scientists say there may be hope for the whale next week as tides substantially rise.

Julie Speegle, a spokesperson for the Alaska Region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there are several plans in place for getting the whale out of Twentymile River. Tides on Tuesday are expected to be greater than 30 feet, Speegle said, which could be enough for the whale to leave on its own. But if the gray whale stays stranded in Twentymile after several high tide cycles, NOAA may enact plans to encourage the whale to leave, Speegle said.

The Girdwood Fire Department is continuously monitoring the whale and will use a commercial boat operator to collect footage of the whale every 2-3 days, Speegle said.

NOAA Fisheries is also increasing their ability to gather photos and videos of the animal by hiring a drone operator to collect aerial video of the whale. Speegle said this video will help scientists, “assess the behavior and body condition of the whale.”

For now, NOAA Fisheries is advising the public to stay away from the whale as stressful conditions and confinement can make it unpredictable and dangerous.

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