Gray whale carcass washed ashore, among 300+ whales unexpectedly dead
Apr 5, 2023, 6:09 AM | Updated: 6:52 am
(Photo by Nick Ut/Getty Images)
Update 6:11 a.m.:
Scientists say a 41-foot gray whale that was found on the shore of Fox Island most likely died after it collided with a ship.
According to the Cascadia Research Collective, a necropsy showed this whale died from blunt-force trauma.
The marine mammal was emaciated – but scientists say in this case, its’ health may have been a mitigating factor, but not the official cause of death.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife removed the whale’s carcass from Fox Island, to an undisclosed beach so it can decompose naturally without negatively impacting residents living near the previous location.
Yet another body of a gray whale has washed ashore in western Washington.
The emaciated 41-foot-long marine mammal washed up on the shores of Fox Island in Pierce County over the weekend.
Dem senators from 4 states ask NOAA to address whale deaths
According to the Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the whale matched the description of one reported multiple times over the last few weeks, swimming and appearing sickly throughout the Puget Sound waters.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the number of gray whales found on beaches and along shorelines from Alaska to Mexico has been growing over the past four years.
It’s become so concerning that NOAA Scientists have declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” (UME), which is described as a significant “die-off” of any marine mammal population.
NOAA statistics show since 2019, 307 gray whale carcasses have been found along the West Coast. That includes four whales found since January 1, 2023.
Necropsy examinations of some of the whales indicate many have been emaciated, but it’s too soon to say what has led to the condition.
NOAA has assembled an independent team of scientists to review the samples and data to see if there are any connections between the UME and any shifts in the ecosystem. After that, they will decide what must be researched next.
Some Senators are now calling on NOAA to address this UME urging “transparency and timeliness” in determining what is causing the unusual deaths. In their letter to an NOAA administrator, the Senators, including New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker; Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ask for NOAA to detail how it plans to address and prevent whale deaths and whether specific actions by Congress or the administration might help.
If you find a stranded or floating whale, you can contact the U.S. Coast Guard or the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114
Officials say it is best if you do not approach or touch any injured or dead marine mammals.