October 8, 2001
In Alaska, the National Park Service has completed its investigation into the death of a pregnant humpback whale and has determined that the mammal, an endangered species, was killed in a collision with a cruise ship. “It’s clear that the whale did not die of natural causes,” says National Park Service spokesman John Quinley. Not only that, the accident was not reported and part of the investigation focused on determining who was culpable.
At this point, Quinley says, “The National Park Service has completed its investigation and turned over results to the United States’ Attorney’s Office -- which will decide if the evidence warrants criminal prosecution.”
While the cruise line -- and ship -- have not been identified, speculation is rampant that Princess’ Dawn Princess was somehow involved in killing the 35-ton, 70,000-pound humpback whale, who measured 46 feet long. In a statement issued this summer -- and which, according to Princess staffers has not been updated to reflect the completion of the NPS investigation:
“Upon learning of the incident [the death of the whale] we immediately contacted all five of our Alaska captains to see if they might have any knowledge about a whale coming in contact with a ship. Our policy would be to report such a contact immediately.
“Four of our ships reported they did not encounter a whale. The fifth ship, the Dawn Princess, reported that they observed a pair of humpback whales near the vessel after departing Glacier Bay on July 12.
“We have made inquiries onboard and, while we have no clear evidence that our ship and a whale came into contact, we cannot exclude this possibility either. We have every reason to believe that our captain and crew acted appropriately throughout the time that the whales came near the ship.”
The cruise line says it has fully cooperated with the NPS investigation.