Deceased female gray whale examined on Whidbey Island

A young female gray whale that was first reported dead on the west side of Whidbey Island on Tuesday 3 April 2018 was examined today (5 April) by a team that included responders from Cascadia Research, SR3, Central Puget Sound Stranding Network, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The whale was just under 30 feet long and determined to be emaciated and the poor nutritional condition was likely a principal factor in its death. The thorough examination did not reveal any indications of trauma from ship strike or signs of entanglement but a wide range of tissues were collected for examination for pathology, disease, biotoxins, and contaminants. The unique markings on this whale did not match any of the more regular individuals that are typically seen in this region and cataloged by Cascadia Research and was likely one of the more than 20,000 gray whales that migrate past Washington each year in spring. The primary period for strandings of gray whales is April, May, and June so we are still early in this period.