Whale collides with ferry Tustumena

A photo taken on board the Tustumena. and shared with DOT officials. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation)

The ferry Tustumena passengers traveling to Kodiak watched a whale collide with the vessel Wednesday morning.

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NOAA received a report of the incident from the Alaska Marine Highway System, according to NOAA Fisheries Alaska region spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

Eyewitnesses say a whale breached into the side of the ferry, Speegle said.

“Afterwards, the whale was seen swimming abnormally and then it sank out of sight,” Speegle said. “From the force of the breach, it is likely that this whale suffered mortal injuries.”

The whale struck the ferry’s starboard stabilization fin.

Department of Transportation public information officer Aurah Landau said the ferry schedule will not be affected.

“Divers took a look at the stabilizer, and it was able to be retracted,” Landau said. “The vessel can run safely as is without that one stabilizer, and so we don’t anticipate needing repairs at this point.”

Speegle said NOAA may be able to learn more, such as the whale’s species, if its body floats to the surface.