Gray whale stranding season has begun

Gray whale stranding season has begun a bit early this year, with 5 dead gray whales in Washington waters so far (although one whale ended up in Canadian waters). The most recent was discovered near Camano Island on 20 April 2021. Due to logistical constraints and the decomposition of the carcass, we have been limited thus far to an on-the-water external examination, conducted by Cascadia Research and World Vets with assistance from Project SeaWolf. It is an adult male, and identification photos matched to an animal seen alive in the same area by researchers with Cascadia Research on 16 April. Gray whale strandings, which most commonly occur between April and June in Washington, appear to be higher than normal so early in the season and may indicate the continuation of the Unusual Mortality Event that began in 2019.