Biologists, veterinarians and volunteers from Cascadia Research, Department of Fish and Wildlife and World Vets conducted a necropsy of a dead gray whale yesterday (March 9) in Ocean Shores WA. The whale was initially sighted offshore in the surf on the afternoon of March 7 and was found dead on the beach on March 8. The 43 foot adult female was emaciated and had partially healed injuries consistent with entanglement near the flukes. There was minimal decomposition and numerous samples were collected for a variety of analyses, which may yield additional information regarding the cause of mortality in this case. The nutritional status of this whale is similar to many of those that have been examined in Washington during the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event that began in 2019 and is still under investigation.
Gray whale mortalities in Washington typically occur from April-June, so this whale represents an early start to the stranding season. This stranding, coupled with the early arrival of several of the “Sounders” in the inland waters may indicate that significant improvement in conditions for gray whales has not occurred, and mortalities may continue to be higher than normal.
We would like to thank our stranding network volunteers, Washington State Parks, and the City of Ocean Shores for their assistance with this stranding. Stranding response activities conducted under NOAA permit 18786-03.
Early Arrival of the Sounders! Check out photo below taken on 24 February 2021
CRC ID 723 above, was seen on 24 February 2021 during a survey Cascadia did in coordination with SR3 as part of a research project looking at the body condition of these whales while they feed on ghost shrimp.