A humpback whale that was struck by a ferry in Seattle's Elliott Bay has still not been located.
A Washington State Ferries spokesperson said the whale breached about five feet in front of the M/V Wenatchee during the 8:15 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge Island on Tuesday. The whale was struck about three minutes into the route.
Typically a ferry crew member on the bridge looks out for whales or other obstacles in the water, according to Washington State Ferries. If a whale is spotted, the captain either stops or changes changes. During the incident on Tuesday night, a state ferries spokesperson said no one on the crew saw the whale coming and didn't have time to maneuver away from the whale.
The captain was not immediately aware the whale was struck and continued to Bainbridge Island. The ferry was traveling around 16 knots when the whale was hit.
Several passengers said they witnessed a bleeding whale from the passenger deck.
This is the first time one of state ferries' boats has ever hit a whale, according to a spokesperson.
The strike was reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Marine Whale Watch.
"We are aware of the reports that a Washington State Ferry hit a whale in Elliott Bay tonight. We have asked the U.S. Coast Guard to assist in locating the whale that may have been struck and are standing by for further information," a NOAA spokesperson said in a statement.
NOAA identified the whale as a humpback from a photo, according to NOAA spokesperson Michael Milstein.
The Coast Guard does not plan to actively search for the whale Wednesday, because it was hit in a high traffic area, and if it's visible it will likely be seen by someone.
The whale's condition is not known at this time.