Third Blue Whale Killed in Channel

The rotting remains of a 70-foot whale killed in the Santa Barbara channel-presumably by a passing ship-washed ashore in Malibu this week, prompting lifeguards to haul its remains once again out to sea. The whale was one of three blue whales recently killed in the shipping lanes off the Santa Barbara coast, and local officials disposed of its remains by hauling it ten miles out to sea last week.

Autopsies of the three whales revealed no traces of domoic aid poisoning or sonar impairment caused by naval tests. Instead, experts now suspect the whales in question-juveniles-were too intent on following to notice oncoming ships in the channel. Some wildlife groups are now calling for a reduction in the speeds allowed in the shipping lanes, arguing that reduced speeds would give the whales more time to react to oncoming vessels, and failing that, reduce the impact of such collisions. Similar efforts elsewhere in the country have been greeted by stiff resistance by the shipping industry and have not been embraced by the Bush Administration.

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