4 dead whales found in Bay Area in last week

California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – There have been four dead whales found in the Bay Area in just the last week or so.

The carcasses have been taken to Angel Island for study. A gray whale is the latest to wash up in the Bay Area. It was found at Muir Beach Thursday morning, a team with the Marine Mammal Center just completed a necropsy and have been busy investigating three other dead whales in 8 days.

“That is really a red flag for us. We’re doing everything we can to investigate the causes of these four,” Dr. Jeff Boehm, CEO at the Marine Mammal Center, said.

Jeff Boehm says there are three common causes.

“We are likely to see is either a malnutrition state, an instant like a ship strike or an entanglement,” Dr. Boehm said. 

Eric Jones came across one of the dead whales this week and reported it to the coast guard.

“We were just out sailing and I saw what looked to be a whale and it wasn’t doing normal whale-like things it was moving slowly,” Eric Jones said. 

His nonprofit Sea Valor helped tow the whale to Angel Island, drone video shows Jones and his crew moving the 33-foot whale in the Bay Area waters. Jones is an experienced boater and says there needs to be more awareness about whales getting killed by ships.

“I’ve seen it first hand. we almost hit whales in our boats but our boats are going four or five knots which is pretty slow and these container ships, they’re going maybe 15 to 20 knots and the whales just don’t have time to get out of the way,” Jones said. 

“One of these has shown evidence of a ship strike but what is really remarkable to us is that this is the fourth incident in just a little over a week and to put that in perspective back in 2019, we saw 13 animals in the entire year and that was a large number to us,” Dr. Boehm said. 

The first whale washed up at Crissy Field last Wednesday, the second at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County on Saturday, and the third was found floating near the Berkeley Marina this week.

“They’re returning at this time from winter down in southern waters in Mexico up to arctic feeding grounds, they should have plenty of fuel to get them up there without stopping in the San Francisco Bay,” Dr. Boehm said. 

The situation is being watched by the federal government and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Marine Mammal Center says the public can play a role in the conservation of gray whales and other whale species by reporting sightings to the center. 

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