On Thursday, August 24, 2023, NOAA Fisheries and the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network received a report that a vessel may have struck a whale. In response, NOAA Fisheries biologists and staff from the Office of Law Enforcement traveled to Favorite Channel and photo documented and identified all humpback whales swimming in the area. Ten known humpback whales were in the area and no injuries were observed.
The next day, NOAA received a report of a humpback whale carcass on Hump Island in Favorite Channel via the 24-hour stranding hotline. NOAA staff coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard and whale watching captains in the area. They were able to confirm the location of the whale with photos the morning of Saturday, August 26. NOAA responded immediately by sending biologists and a veterinarian to Hump Island. The postmortem examination found injuries consistent with a vessel strike. We do not yet know if the two incidents are related.
The deceased whale was identified as a humpback calf known by Juneau Flukes and the Juneau community as “Tango,” the 2023 calf of “Sasha.” Sasha is one of Juneau’s most beloved whales; she spends most of her summers near Juneau and has distinct markings that make her easy to spot. Tango is her third known calf. Sasha is believed to be uninjured and was observed feeding near Juneau over the weekend.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is continuing its investigation, and it is standard NOAA practice not to comment on the details of ongoing investigations. Anyone who has information that they think may be helpful to the investigation please call our Enforcement hotline at (800) 853-1964. A live operator is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in the United States.
We want to thank the numerous organizations and vessels on the water the last few days who contacted the stranding hotline to report the humpback whale sighting on Hump Island.