Hey, remember that whale that was hit by a ship, then dragged through the Bay last week, inspiring both warnings from marine officials and waggish comments? Well, the Marine Mammal Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration do, as they’ve been hard at work trying to figure out what led to this kind of grisly event.

While there’s still no word confirming or disputing early reports that the whale was alive when hit by the 642-foot Northern Vitality container ship, both agencies are now saying that they believe that the whale, believed to be a minke, was not killed in the San Francisco Bay.

The ship was probably traveling at around 20 knots when it struck the whale, a NOAA spokesperson said, noting that “the NOAA has been trying to reduce ship strikes by asking vessels in the shipping industry to slow down to 10 knots or less when they are traveling in an area that has been experiencing an influx of hungry whales.”

Both the NOAA and the Marine Mammal Center say that the ship’s operators, Norton Lilly International, is cooperating with their investigation, which is focusing on “whether or not the ship’s operators saw the animal before they hit it.”

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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