Genetic samples from a dead stranded killer whale calf examined by Cascadia Research and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Ocean Shores on July 1, 2018 have been analyzed by researchers at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. It has been determined that this calf was a member of the Bigg’s killer whale (transient) population. Unlike Southern Resident killer whales, transients are not listed as endangered.
The 234cm (7 ft 8 in) female was in a moderate to advanced state of decomposition. Initially found dead just north of Willapa Bay on June 27 but taken out with the tide, it re-stranded in Ocean Shores late on the evening of June 30 and the examination took place early the following morning. Although preliminary findings suggested birth-related trauma as the possible cause of mortality, the exact cause of death will likely remain undetermined due to decomposition. Numerous biological samples were taken to support ongoing killer whale research and the skeleton was retained for future display at a local marine science education facility.