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Grey whale washes up in Boundary Bay, sixth of the species to die in B.C. this year

The DFO is investigating the death of a sixth grey whale on B.C.'s coast this year. .
The DFO is investigating the death of a sixth grey whale on B.C.'s coast this year. . Paul Cottrell / DFO

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is investigating the discovery of a dead grey whale in Boundary Bay.

DFO Pacific Marine Mammal Rescue Coordinator Paul Cottrell said fisheries officers were out on the water on Tuesday observing grey whales when they spotted the carcass.

Crews work to secure a dead grey whale to a Coast Guard hovercraft on Wednesday.
Crews work to secure a dead grey whale to a Coast Guard hovercraft on Wednesday. Paul Cottrell / DFO

READ MORE: 5th dead grey whale washes up on Haida Gwaii, DFO investigating

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He said crews secured the animal Tuesday night, and returned Wednesday to recover the 12- to 14-metre adult female whale.

Cottrell said there was no sign of ship strike, but that the animal did have some crabbing gear wrapped on it.

WATCH: Coverage of grey whales in Metro Vancouver on Globalnews.ca

He said the DFO is planning a necropsy for Thursday, and it will require more investigation to know if the crabbing equipment played any part in the animal’s death.

“It’s not clear if that was attached after the animal died,” Cottrell said.

“So it’s something that we’ll be looking at in terms of the scarring on the animal, and we won’t be able to tell for sure until we get the animal onto shore and look at the overall situation with the animal.”

A Coast Guard hovercraft tows the dead whale to shore where scientists will conduct a necropsy on Thursday.
A Coast Guard hovercraft tows the dead whale to shore where scientists will conduct a necropsy on Thursday. Paul Cottrell / DFO

Cotrell said it was also too soon to say whether the dead whale was one of the grey whales that became beached at Centennial Beach in May.

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There’s been a lot of grey whales in Boundary Bay and adjacent areas, so it’s hard to know,” he said.

READ MORE: Two grey whales rescued after getting beached in Boundary Bay

“But we will be looking at that pattern of the animal and the characteristic ID’s of the other animals to see if we can match. But at this point, this is a very large animal, so it definitely wouldn’t be the younger one that was part of that group.”

This is the sixth grey whale to wash up dead on B.C.’s shores since the beginning of the year, and one of more than 148 to turn up dead on the west coast of North America in the last six months, according to the NOAA.

Cottrell said the DFO is working with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Mexican authorities to try and understand what is causing the spike in deaths.