Humpback whale found dead near Ocean Shores on 19 May 2018 likely died as a result of entanglement

A dead humpback whale was first reported floating on 17 May 2018 off Ocean Shores (photographed by the US Coast Guard) and came ashore late on 19 May 2018 near where it was initially reported. A team lead by Cascadia Research Collective with other members of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, including SR3, examined this whale on 20 May. It was a juvenile humpback whale entangled in crab gear. The 28.5 foot, 1-2 year old female was in very good nutritional condition, with food remains in its stomach and intestines. The entanglement was concluded to have occurred prior to death and was likely the cause of the mortality.

This finding contributed to an unusually high number of entanglements of large whales (humpback and gray whales) in Washington this year. In just April and May 2018 there have been at least five reported entanglements (three gray whales and two humpback whales including this one). Overall two of the five entanglements were animals found dead, one was the focus of an effort to disentangle but is believed to now have died, and for remaining two the fate is not known.

We would like to thank SR3, NOAA, Coast Guard, WDFW Enforcement and WA State Parks for their assistance with this most recent case.