Cascadia has been heavily involved in responding to gray whale strandings in 2019 and this mortality was recently declared an Unusual Mortality Event by NOAA.
We have had over 30 strandings of gray whales in Washington state so far in 2019 (through early June). This is well above our average of 6 gray whale strandings per year, and has included a higher number of adult animals than we usually document. Our peak gray whale stranding season typically runs from April through June when whales are nearing the end of their fasting period at the breeding grounds and are migrating north, so we expect to see more dead gray whales in the coming weeks. Of those that have been examined (most of them), all have shown signs of malnutrition. This is the 2nd year in a row of higher than usual gray whale mortalities (10 in 2018), and there have been other indications that the population may have been facing nutritional challenges on their feeding grounds within the last couple of years. California has also document an unusually high number of dead gray whales. Click here for a report from NOAA. At this time there are no other potential whales being investigated in Washington.
Updated on June 26, 2019