On 24 May 2017, Cascadia Research examined a young gray whale that was found dead on the Washington outer coast near Westport. The 30′ 10″ (940 cm) female was in good body condition, with moderately oily blubber and food material in the GI tract. There was evidence of traumatic injury, including bruising on the chest area and internal organs, but no broken bones were seen. These injuries could have been related to a live-stranding event, although because we were unable to examine the dorsal aspect of the whale we cannot rule out the possibility of ship strike.
This whale represents the 4th whale to have stranded within the last month in Washington waters. While this number of strandings is not out of the ordinary, the individual strandings have been unusual–including an entangled gray whale calf, a ship-struck fin whale, and an older adult female gray whale.
We would like to thank Washington State Parks for their assistance with this stranding. The whale will remain on the beach for natural decomposition.
Below are photos (photo credit: Cascadia Research) from the start of the examination.