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I packed out both pectoral fins as well as four vertebrae.
An 18 foot long, juvenile male orca washed ashore on a remote beach at Point Reyes just before thanksgiving 2011. This animal belongs to one of three ecotypes, the offshore group. It was last seen off Vancouver in September. The other ecotypes are resident and transient. These names are derived based on what the animals do during the summer months.
A full necropsy was performed. Blood was found in the blowhole and there was other evidence of trauma to the head. This may have been the result of being struck by a ship, or during interactions with other whales. No determination on cause of death has been made.
Little is known about offshore orcas. This may be only the second specimen of this type to be collected, most animals die offshore and sink.
Orcas are actually members of the dolphin family, the largest member. Males can grow to over 30 feet long, though are usually 20-26 feet in length. This is the first killer whale known to wash ashore at Point Reyes in many decades.
Offshore orcas mainly feed on sharks. Sharks have very tough skin and that is likely why the teeth of this animal are very degraded. Resident animals mainly feed on salmon, transients prefer marine mammals, such as seals.
Here is some video of the whale in the surf.