Sonoma County Park rangers reported that a grey whale was found washed ashore on the Portuguese Beach, making it the seventh dead whale found in California over the past five weeks. Since the migration period of the whales is not over yet, authorities expect these unfortunate incidents will keep happening for a while longer.
The nearly 30-foot grey whale is believed to have been washed ashore somewhere between late Friday and Saturday, but most likely the mammal was already dead before reaching the beach. California State Parks employees are still trying to find the probable cause of death in order to determine if it is connected in any way with other similar incidents.
“It does seem we have a spate of whale mortalities washing up on various beaches,” explained Mary Jane Schramm, a marine researcher working with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “The fact that we’re seeing so many in such a small geographic area is setting off some alarms.”
It is too early to say that there is something killing the whales, albeit natural or man-related. The seven – or by some sources eight – whales that died in California over the past five months belong to different species, and the cause of death was not always the same. However, the unprecedented surge in the number of whale deaths has left researchers worried.
A pygmy sperm whale was first found dead in January close to Point Reyes National Seashore, most likely because it beached itself. Then, another specimen, this time a killer whale, was found washed ashore the beaches of Fort Bragg on April 21. Shortly after, on April 24, two gray whales were found dead on a Santa Cruz County beach, but this time researchers believe the whales were dead before reaching the shore.
The scientists have failed to determine so far what causes the whales to come ashore to die, since there are no signs of any ship interaction, and no wound were found on their bodies. In fact, some of them where found rotting and had to be buried because of the smell, which suggests that they have probably been dead for several days before being washed ashore on the Californian beaches.
Experts are worried that the worse is still to come, as the gray whales are still in their migration season. Their 5,000-mile long journey from Mexico to Alaska usually ends in May, and more dead whale carcasses are expected to be found across the beaches of Northern California.
Image Source: The Blaze