Daily US Times: In the last nine days, four dead gray whales have washed ashore San Francisco Bay Area beaches, with experts said one had been struck by a ship. Scientists were trying to determine how the other three whales had died.
Dr Padraig Duignan, the director of pathology at the Marine Mammal Center, said: “It’s alarming to respond to four dead gray whales in just over a week because it really puts into perspective the current challenges faced by this species.”
The carcass of a 41ft adult female gray whale washed up at San Francisco’s Crissy Field on 31 March. A second adult female greay whale was found last Saturday in Moss Beach in San Mateo county while a third was found on Wednesday floating near the Berkeley Marina and the following day another washed up in Marin county’s Muir Beach.
The whales migrate 10,000 miles to winter off Mexico’s waters, where they mate and birth calves near the coast of Baja California.
The whales head back north and stay off the coast of California in summer and spring to feed on anchovies, sardines and krill before continuing on their northerly migration to cool, food-rich Arctic waters.
At least 13 dead whales washed ashore in the Bay Area in 2019 and scientists said they feared it was because the whales were starving and could not complete their annual migration from Mexico to Alaska.
Gray whales were in poor body condition during their annual migration since 2019, according to biologists. Experts say, since then (2019), an “unusual mortality event” was declared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Entanglement in fishing gear, Malnutrition and trauma from ship strikes have been the most common causes of death found by the center’s research team in recent years.