Virgin Oceanic whale burial at sea
- By Jack Preston -
- Nov 25, 2011
Virgin Oceanic has announced a partnership with three leading aquatic institutions in an attempt to sink a 67’ Fin Whale carcass in the waters off the coast of La Jolla, San Diego, in the largest research programme of its type.
The carcass, found washed up on shore on Saturday after being hit by a ship, will today be towed by the Virgin Oceanic catamaran from Fiesta Island to its final resting place by the multi-agency convoy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Sea World of San Diego.
As Virgin Oceanic operations manager, Eddie Kisfaludy, explained: “We’ll tie onto it, drag it off La Jolla - about five miles offshore, and hopefully sink it in 2,500 feet of water.”
City officials had planned to dump the body in a landfill site until the intervention of Virgin Oceanic, who have paid for the towing of the whale. "Taking advantage of an opportunistic situation is what we are doing," said Kisfaludy.
"The most ecologically responsible thing we want to do is put the whale back in the ocean."
Over the next year the carcass will be monitored by Scripps using a remote control device, as it continues to decompose it should attract a wide variety of sea creatures. The finding of the whale, whose cause of death was confirmed by an autopsy carried out by a team of over 20 researchers, presents a unique opportunity in the field of marine biology.
Projects such as this aim to back up Richard Branson’s plan to “get the world excited about exploring” the ocean as well as continuing the recent trend of whale drops yielding major biological discoveries. If successful it will be the largest whale drop ever deployed and will serve as the equivalent of an underwater laboratory.