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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 14:22 UK

Whale wedged on cruise ship bow

Fisheries staff examined the whale

A rare whale was discovered wedged on to the bow of a cruise ship when it docked in a Canadian port.

The 70ft fin whale, a threatened species in Canada, was found when the Sapphire Princess docked at the Port of Vancouver, the cruise company said.

It said it had "strict whale avoidance" measures and it was unclear where, when or how the whale became stuck.

Tourists looked on as the dead whale was examined by fisheries department staff.

The cruise ship had arrived from Alaska about 0630 local time on Saturday.

"We are not aware that any whales were sighted as the ship sailed through the Inside Passage to Vancouver," Princess Cruises said.

The whale was on top of the bulbous bow, the part of the bow that goes through the water, Princess Cruises said.

Captain unaware

Its whale avoidance measures include altering course and reducing speed if whales are spotted nearby.

The captain was unaware of the whale's presence until the ship docked, said a spokeswoman from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans quoted by the Vancouver Sun.

Map

The whale could have been struck north of Vancouver Island since fin whales are not normally found in the Johnstone or Georgia straits, Lisa Spaven added.

She also said "vessel strikes are a very real threat to fin whales," but were hard to quantify as incidents often went unreported.

The fisheries department will need to conduct a post-mortem examination to find out if the whale was dead or alive before the collision.

According to the Vancouver Sun, two tugboats were hired by the fisheries department to nudge the whale from the bow.

It was then moved to a barge.

Ten years ago another cruise ship arrived at the same port with a whale on the bow, the newspaper said.



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