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Dead Whales are Washing Up on NorCal Shores at an Alarming Rate

Photo: Clara Field / The Marine Mammal Center

On Monday, April 15th, commercial crabbing season in California came to a screeching halt three months before the typical closing date. The reason? Gray whales off the Northern California coast are severely malnourished and the proof is being seen with their dead bodies washing up to local beaches.

As the whales migrate from Mexico to Alaska for the summer months, they are being seen in a malnourished state once they hit NorCal. Recently, whale sightings in the San Francisco Bay skyrocketed, probably due to starvation. Now, these malnourished whales are washing ashore in NorCal at an alarming rate.

Photo: The Marine Mammal Center

Two more dead whales were recently found on beaches near the San Francisco Bay, making it five dead whales in the last month and eight on the year. One was found at Manor Beach in Pacifica Tuesday afternoon, while another washed up along the shoreline near Richmond along Brooks Island Regional Preserve.

After a busy month of investigating the whale carcasses, scientists claim the number of dead whales in the area is becoming alarmingly high.

Photo: Clara Field / The Marine Mammal Center


“If you just look at historical data for those first four months, we’re at our third highest year-to-date,” said Justin Greenman, the California assistant marine mammal coordinator for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, to LiveScience.

While most whales found on the NorCal shores typically die from starvation, it’s not necessarily due to less amounts of food available. In fact, whale populations are currently flourishing, meaning there is more competition for meals than in the past.

Photo: The Marine Mammal Center

It’s yet to be determined if this is a growing trend or simply an off year for migrating whales. The next five years will determine the future health of the Pacific coast’s gray whale populations.

If you see a gray whale or other marine mammal that’s dead or in distress, notify the U.S. Coast Guard or call 1-877-SOS-WHAL(e) (1-877-767-9425). The Marine Mammal Center can also be reached directly at 415-289-SEAL (7325).

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