California

Another gray whale washes up dead on a Bay Area beach — the 10th since March

Stunning drone video shows baby gray whale and mom swimming together

A baby gray whale and her calf were captured swimming in front of Dana Point Harbor in Orange County on Friday, Jan. 11. Capt. Frank Brennan, who works for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, took the video.
Up Next
A baby gray whale and her calf were captured swimming in front of Dana Point Harbor in Orange County on Friday, Jan. 11. Capt. Frank Brennan, who works for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, took the video.

Another gray whale has washed up dead in the Bay Area, marking the 10th dead whale found in the area since March 10.

The whale was discovered on Monday along a rocky shoreline in an intertidal area in Pacifica, according to Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli. The whale’s age, sex and cause of death are unknown at this time, Rulli said.

Authorities haven’t yet been able to reach the whale because of its location.

“The incoming storms and uncertain tidal conditions will play a role in the coming days of when the expert team can gather more information,” Rulli said.

On average, The Marine Mammal Center, which is the primary cetacean responder from central Mendocino County to the southern border of San Mateo County, typically responds to from 5 to 10 dead whales per year, Rulli said.

“This year has been abnormally high in terms of responses considering it’s mid-May,” Rulli said in an email.

Ship strikes have caused the deaths of four of the whales that have been found since March, while another four died of malnutrition, according to The Marine Mammal Center.

Officials have not yet determined a cause of death for a gray whale who was found on Point Reyes National Seashore on April 30.

Gray whales tend to pass through California waters in the springtime, when they’re making their migration north to the Arctic where they spend the summers. Authorities have seen increased numbers of gray whales in the San Francisco Bay Area during this spring’s migration, The Marine Mammal Center said in a news release.

Biologists have also noticed gray whales “in poor body condition,” according to the release. The last dead whale, which washed up on Ocean Beach on May 6, showed signs of malnutrition, including a thinner-than-usual blubber layer.

Of the 48 dead gray whales found along the West Coast in 2019, at least 31 of the deaths were reported along the California coast, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Whales can become trapped in fishing gear and other lines and ropes along the coasts of the United States. NOAA confirmed 76 such cases in 2017 involving humpbacks, gray, minke, blue and North Atlantic right whales.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments