ANCHORAGE, Alaska — If three killer whales that have been swimming up the Nushagak River in Southwest Alaska for weeks fail to turn back for the ocean soon, biologists may have to intervene, a NOAA official said Friday.
Officials with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service are concerned that the whales – who have never before been seen swimming up a fresh-water river in Alaska – are in poor condition due to weeks outside of their natural marine habitat.
“It’s definitely a situation where we are concerned about them,” said Julie Speegle, a NOAA spokesperson. “We don’t know what kind of shape they are in after having been in the river for three weeks."
Biologists believe the whales may have gone upstream in search of salmon. It's not unusual for Dillingham residents to see killer whales in the saltwater areas near the mouth of the Nushagak River, but they've never been seen this far up before.