Scientists are voicing concern after 9 dead grey whales washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay in 2 months

The Marine Mammal Center/Sarah Maria CurranThe grey whale that washed ashore Ocean Beach in San Francisco on Monday.
  • The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, said in a statement that nine dead grey whales have washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area in the last two months.
  • The ninth washed ashore Ocean Beach in San Francisco on Monday, and scientists are performing a necropsy, or an animal autopsy, to determine its cause of death.
  • A total of 31 dead grey whales have been spotted up and down the West Cost since January, and a number of them were malnourished.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Nine dead grey whales have washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area in the last two months, causing concern among scientists.

The ninth dead grey whale washed ashore Ocean Beach in San Francisco on Monday.

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, released a statement on Twitter saying that its scientists plan to perform a necropsy, or an animal autopsy, to determine the cause of death.

Among the other eight grey whales found dead in the Bay Area, four died of malnutrition and three died after being struck by ships. The cause of death of the eighth whale – found on April 30 – is still to be determined.

“We are committed to performing these investigations w/our partners to find long-term solutions to help prevent these incidents in the future,” the organisation said on Twitter. “The length, age & sex of the grey whale is currently unknown. The Center has previously performed 8 grey whale necropsies this year.”

Veterinarian Padraig Duignan, chief research pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center, said in a statement provided to INSIDER that the deaths are “a cause for serious concern.”

A grey whale found dead in the San Francisco Bay Area.Laura Sherr © The Marine Mammal CenterA grey whale found dead in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We are committed to partnering with organisations and individuals to find long-term environmental solutions to prevent these deaths in the future,” he said.

From Baja California to Puget Sound in Washington, a total of 31 dead grey whales have been spotted along the West Coast since January, the Los Angeles Times reported May 1.

Many of the whales have shown signs of malnourishment. Marine scientist Steven Swartz told the LA Times that 23% of grey whales without calves that his team observed were skinny.

He also said the number of grey whales with calves is down significantly from previous years.


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According to the Marine Mammal Center, grey whales were at the brink of extinction in the first half of the 20th century.

Their population grew after a 1946 international agreement protected them from being hunted, and in 1994 the animal was taken off the Endangered Species List. Now there are about 26,000 in the Pacific Ocean.

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