A cruise ship pulled into its Alaskan port with a a 25- to 30-foot dead whale pinned to its bow. Federal officials investigating the incident said it did not appear the ship's operators did anything wrong.
The crew of the 2,000-passenger ship Summit said they were surprised to discover they had hit a whale somewhere after leaving Disenchantment Bay near Yakutat. They felt no bump during their voyage, said a spokesman for Celebrity Cruises, which owns the ship.
The whale was spotted by longshoremen at the Seward dock.
It was tentatively identified as a humpback, an endangered species, and towed by a tugboat Saturday afternoon to a nearby beach. A necropsy has been scheduled to help determine whether the whale was alive or dead when it was struck.
The whale was on the bulbous bow that protrudes from the ship's hull below the waterline, said Scott Adams, an enforcement officer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"We have no knowledge if it struck this vessel or another vessel or just died of some genetic issue," Adams said. "It doesn't look like the result of any predatory attack."
At least two humpbacks have been struck and killed by tour boats in Glacier Bay National Park in the past decade, said Barbara Mahoney, a marine mammal specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
A boat crew that is not pursuing or harassing whales, and that reports any accident, is not likely to suffer repercussions, federal officials said.
"These boats are big enough that they don't even feel a bump," Mahoney said.
The Summit is the length of three football fields.