JULY 25, 2009
CRUISE SHIP HITS RARE FIN WHALE ALONG INSIDE PASSAGE
In an incident that could reignite debate over the impact of cruise ships sailing to Alaska, a Princess vessel pulled into Vancouver Saturday with a rare fin whale pinned to its bow.
The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess had just returned from a week-long Alaska cruise along the scenic Inside Passage -- a coastal route known for its rich wildlife.
"We were shocked and saddened by this discovery, and sincerely regret the circumstances which led to the whale's death," Princess says in a statement. "It is unknown how or when this could have happened."
Princess notes that its ships use strict whale avoidance procedures when in the vicinity of marine life.
"We are not aware that any whales were sighted as the ship sailed through the Inside Passage to Vancouver yesterday," the line adds. "We take our responsibility to be good stewards of the marine environment very seriously, and have clear guidelines for our ships on how to operate if whales are sighted nearby, which include altering course and reducing speed as required."
The Vancouver Sun reports the whale was an adult about 70 feet long. The news outlet says the whale's fin and part of its body stuck out of the water as tourists watched from Vancouver's cruise ship terminal.
The Sun reports the whale likely was struck north of Vancouver Island and authorities will do a necropsy to determine if the ship hit it while it was alive or if it already was dead at the time of impact.
The incident comes almost ten years to the day after another cruise ship, the Celebrity Galaxy, arrived in Vancouver with a whale caught on its bow. In that case, it also was an adult fin whale.