KODIAK ISLAND, Alaska — Two more gray whales were found dead this week in Alaska amid the mysterious surge of deaths within the species this year along the U.S. West Coast, CNN affiliate KTUU reports.
That makes seven in Alaska and at least 75 total, in what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls an “unusual mortality event,” the station reports.
One of the two found near Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska showed signs of killer whale “predation,” KTUU reports. Two more were discovered this week off Washington state.
Last month, ocean scientists said they were worried about the death rate, the highest in almost two decades. Some of the mammals were underweight, which may mean they could not find enough food in the water, a possible result of climate change, NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said.
In all of last year, 45 gray whales were found onshore, NOAA said.
Gray whales do most of their eating during summers in the Arctic and migrate to spend half the year in Mexico. They can reach 90,000 pounds. The species was endangered until 1994.