Image credit: AP Photo/NOAA
The Sapphire Princess, a cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, struck a 43 foot long female humpback whale on Wednesday, causing it to become lodged in an undersea protuberance of the bow.
The ship, en route to Juneau, Alaska, was forced to make a detour to Douglas Island, where the whale was removed from the bow and taken into the custody of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.In a press release, Princess Cruises commented that they were "surprised and concerned by this discovery," and that the company has a "strict whale avoidance procedures for when the ships are near marine life, and that it notified the Coast Guard and the National Marine Fisheries Service."
They added that "ship felt no impact and that the crew was not aware that any whales were sighted in close proximity to the ship when it was discovered."
If the necropsy reveals, however, that the whale was indeed killed on impact with ship, it will be the third such kill by Princess Cruises in less than a decade.
Last year, the Sapphire Princess was found to have a dead fin whale—also an endangered species—stuck to its bow.
In 2007, Princess Cruises paid $750,000 to settle criminal charges related to a dead humpback whale found outside Glacier Bay, Alaska, in 2001. The investigation found that the whale—which was pregnant at the time—died after its skull had been crushed.
Princess Cruises did not admit to striking the whale but they did plead guilty to failing to operate one of its ships at safe speeds while near whales.
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