A killer whale that beached itself on Prince of Wales Island on Thursday has freed itself, according to federal biologists.
NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Julie Fair said the killer whale was able to refloat with the incoming tide and left the area around 3 p.m.
“Reports from the scene indicate that the whale was a little bit slow at first and meandered around a little bit, and then swam away,” she said.
Social media videos from earlier in the day showed people standing around the about 20-foot marine mammal as it laid on seaweed-covered rocks with several boats nearby.
The orca was reported to be calling out as people tried to keep it wet.
Fair said biologists are gathering photos and videos of the whale.
“We’re trying to determine if it was a known killer whale. If so, what pod it was from, and to assess its condition and any injuries that might have. Knowing that will just help us further our scientific understanding of killer whales,” Fair said.
Though other killer whales were initially reported in the area, Fair said they swam away before the whale was able to free itself.
Fair says NOAA has “no evidence” the stranding was related to Wednesday’s magnitude-8.2 earthquake that triggered tsunami warnings and advisories along much of Alaska’s coast.