Cruise ship hits whale off Alaska

For the third time in the past decade a Princess Cruises luxury ship has struck and killed a whale in the waters off the coast of Alaska. That latest incident occurred last Tuesday evening just south of Juneau, where the ship the Sapphire Princess apparently hit the creature, whose corpse was discovered attached to the hull on Wednesday morning. Last year, the same ship arrived in Vancouver following a routine voyage, with a fin whale stuck to its hull.

This current whale was an adult female humpback that measured more than 43 feet in length. Humpbacks are found in waters all over the world, but in the summer months they tend to feed in colder, polar waters. The species is an endangered one and the giant mammals are protected under U.S. law, with stiff fines levied against those who do them harm. It is unclear at this time whether or not Carnival Corp., the parent company of Princess Cruises, will face any fines for this latest incident. They paid out a settlement of $750,000 for a similar incident that occurred in 2001.

On Friday, investigators were still studying the whale’s carcass to determine the exact cause of death. They have not ruled out the possibility that the beast was already dead when the ship struck it, and that the Sapphire Princess played no role in killing it.

[Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson via WikiMedia Commons]