Cruise ship strikes whale near Juneau

by Channel 2 News staff
The whale was discovered around 8 a.m. Wednesday (Photo courtesy National Marine Fisheries Service) The whale was discovered around 8 a.m. Wednesday (Photo courtesy National Marine Fisheries Service)
The ship's bulbous bow lies beneath the water. (Photo courtesy the National Marine Fisheries Service) The ship’s bulbous bow lies beneath the water. (Photo courtesy the National Marine Fisheries Service)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A cruise ship struck a whale Wednesday while cruising south of Juneau. According to radio station KINY, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official says that the whale appears to be a juvenile humpback whale.

The Sapphire Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, discovered the dead whale at about 8 a.m.¬†on top of the ship’s bulbous bow, the part of the bow that goes through the water.

“We were surprised and concerned by this discovery,” the cruise line said in a press release. It is not sure when or how the collision occurred.

The company says the 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.

Princess noted that it has 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.

The whale’s carcass was removed and taken ashore inside Stephens Passage, south of Douglas Island. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will conduct a necropsy to determine if the whale was killed by the ship or already dead when it was struck.

The Sapphire Princess, which is on a 7-day Inside Passage cruise round-trip from Seattle, was delayed three hours on its way to Juneau because of the incident.

The Sapphire Princess hit a fin whale just over a year ago near Vancouver Island.

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