Four dead gray whales have washed ashore San Francisco Bay Area beaches in the last nine days, with experts saying Friday one was struck by a ship. They were trying to determine how the other three died.
“It’s alarming to respond to four dead gray whales in just over a week because it really puts into perspective the current challenges faced by this species,” says Dr. Pádraig Duignan, Director of Pathology at The Marine Mammal Center.
The carcass of a 41-foot adult female gray whale landed at San Francisco’s Crissy Field on March 31. A second adult female was found last Saturday in Moss Beach in San Mateo County. A third was found Wednesday floating near the Berkeley Marina and the following day one washed up in Marin County’s Muir Beach.
The whales migrate 10,000 miles to winter off Mexico’s waters, where they mate and birth calves near the coast of Baja California. They head back north and stay off the coast of California in spring and summer to feed on anchovies, sardines and krill before continuing on their northerly migration to cool, food-rich Arctic waters.
In 2019, at least 13 dead whales washed ashore in the Bay Area and scientists said they feared it was because the animals were starving and couldn’t complete their annual migration from Mexico to Alaska. Biologists have observed gray whales in poor body condition during their annual migration since 2019, when an “unusual mortality event” was declared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Malnutrition, entanglement in fishing gear, and trauma from ship strikes have been the most common causes of death found by the center’s research team in recent years.
A necropsy of the whale found at Muir Beach revealed significant bruising and hemorrhaging to muscle around the whale’s jaw and neck vertebrae consistent with blunt force trauma due to ship strike. But experts noted the whale was in good body condition based on the blubber layer and internal fat levels, the center said.
Experts haven’t determined how the other three whales died or if starvation was behind their deaths.
Courtesy of nbcnews.com
Three sperm whales have died at Ripiro beach on Northland’s Pouto Peninsula.
The Department of Conservation said the whales were reported stranded on Monday night.
They died on Tuesday morning.
Samples have been taken to try and ascertain the cause of death.
DOC’s Stephanie Hayes said the department is working closely with Waikaretu Marae and Te Uri o Hau.
“Our main focus now is ensuring the safety of the public and the burial of the whales.”
DOC is asking the public to stay away from the site until the flensing and burial process is complete.
The whales range in length from 12 metres to 14 metres.
DOC responds to about 85 whale stranding incidents every year, typically of single animals.
Courtesy of stuff.co.nz
Mystery surrounds the worst spate of dolphin and whale strandings on record in Ireland.
There have been 93 dead dolphins, whales and porpoises washed up along the coast in the first two months of the year – the highest number ever recorded in that time period.
Four were successfully refloated after efforts from volunteers but 89 died.
Last year, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group received 70 reports of the animals washing up dead in the winter months, which was unprecedented, but it was surpassed this year with 93 strandings.
Common dolphins are the most frequent species found making up more than two-thirds of the carcasses this year.
In a number of cases, people who found dolphin carcasses were convinced they had found the remains of much-loved Dingle dolphin Fungie, but none of the animals turned out to be the famous bottlenose dolphin with distinctive markings.
Just under one in 10 had obvious signs of being caught in nets, three had tails cut off, three had broken jaws, and one was caught in a net.
Stephanie Levesque, stranding officer with the IWDG, believes the pandemic has meant more people are out walking their local shores and this could be playing a role in the increased reports.
The strandings are concentrated mainly among the west and south-west coasts.
Courtesy of independent.ie
Regional officials on the northeastern Indonesian island of Madura said Friday at least 45 pilot whales that stranded themselves on a beach there have died, while rescuers managed to push three back out to sea.
East Java Provincial Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who was at the scene, told reporters that volunteers began arriving Thursday when news of the stranding first broke. He said they initially were able to push some of the whales back out to sea, but they returned.
The governor said there will be an investigation into the stranding and samples from dead whales will be sent to a regional university for study. He said the rest of the whales will be buried Saturday once the tide recedes and excavators can be used.
There were a series of high-profile pilot whale strandings last year in the south Pacific, including incidents in New Zealand and on the Australian island of Tasmania, where hundreds of whales died.
It is not fully understood why the whales beach themselves, but they are known to be highly social and travel in large groups known as pods. They will often follow a leader and sometimes come to the aid of an injured or distressed member of their pod.
Whale Stranding Indonesia, a nongovernmental organization, says in 2020 more than 70 marine mammals were found stranded, including dugongs, which are medium-sized marine mammals that are related to manatees.
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About fifteen dead pilot dolphins stranded in December on the Port-au-Port peninsula in Newfoundland are the subject of an investigation by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
The ministry was notified on December 9 and a team of fishery officers was deployed to Trois-Cailloux to take samples of the flesh and teeth of huge black cetaceans.
In the photographs I have, they appear to be healthy , says DFO marine mammal expert Jack Lawson . They weren’t hungry, they weren’t thin. They do not show signs of entanglement and there is no evidence of injuries from a collision with a ship.
It appears the animals were looking for food and became disoriented , he says, while noting that the investigation is continuing and the ministry has not come up with a definitive explanation.
Jack Lawson explains that pilot dolphins are very social cetaceans who like to swim in groups. These herds can number hundreds of animals.
He says pilot dolphins – which can weigh 2300 kg and measure 7 m in length – are increasingly less common in coastal Newfoundland waters.
The expert believes that an event like the one observed at Trois-Cailloux is relatively rare in Newfoundland, but he recalls that a similar incident occurred on the south coast of the island in the 1970s. At the time, about sixty cetaceans had died.
Courtesy of ici.radio-canada.ca
ALL 10 sperm whales stranded near a beach in Yorkshire have died, officials confirmed tonight.
The mammals were spotted on the beach between Tunstall and Withernsea, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, this morning.
Rescuers battled to save them but confirmed they have died.
A British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) spokesman said: “We can only hope that there are no more whales still in the area that might yet come ashore.
“We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of our team involved on the ground and behind the scenes in this awful situation, today of all days for it to happen on, as well as our colleagues in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency who have been on scene all day dealing with these tragic and difficult circumstances.”
The Coastguard was called to the scene earlier today with the public urged to stay away from the area.
Dramatic pictures show the tragic whales still in the water as rescuers try to find a way to remove them.
Emily Mayman, 30, an experienced medic with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: “We suspect it’s about 10 whales. But we’re waiting on more information at the moment.
“We’re not sure what caused this – but sometimes you get this happening to sperm whales dotted around the coastline.
“It’s a massive shame.
“There’s not much we can do with them. They are such big animals. Their skulls alone are so heavy so rescue operations are very difficult.
“They are a deep diving species, it’s not in their best interest to try and put them back out again.
“It’s very sad to see because they may be sick.”
The animals are understood to be sperm whales, which can grow up to 16m in length and weigh between 35,000kg and 57,000kg.
It was originally believed there were seven whales, but this has now changed.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed they received a call just before 8.30am from a member of the public.
They were joined Humberside Police for the rescue mission, which was hampered by the rising tide.
Chief Superintendent Darren Downs said: “I understand the public interest in the incident but I would urge people to stay away from the area to allow the teams from HM Coast Guard to manage what is an extremely distressing scene.
“I would also remind people that there is a risk to themselves and others as crowds gather to witness the scene. The Covid-19 pandemic remains a high risk to public health people should not gather in groups as there is a danger of transmission amongst the crowds.
“Please stay away from the area and support your emergency services in dealing with the situation throughout the day.”
There have been frequent reports of whales washing up on British beaches over the past few years.
Courtesy of thesun.co.uk
Marine biologists are investigating the deaths of at least six whales found washed up on France’s western shores with no apparent sign of having been hit by a ship or caught in a trawler’s net.
Researchers on Monday used a mechanical digger and long knives to dissect a fin whale, the second largest species of whale after the blue whale, taking samples they believe might reveal evidence of a viral pathogen.
In an average year, between three and, at most, 10 whales are deposited dead on France’s beaches, they say.
“We have what is almost an epidemic or, at any rate, an abnormal spike in deaths,” said Willy Dabin, a researcher from the Pelagis Observatory working on the corpse.
The most recent fin whale corpse was found on Friday near Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. It measured nearly 16 metres and weighed an estimated 10 tonnes.
The common fin whales have all died within the past six weeks. All have been malnourished and shown evidence of hemorrhaging in the cardiac and respiratory systems.
“The question lurking in the background is: are humans a contributing factor in their capacity to upset the environment?” Dabin said. “Either by impacting food availability or polluting the living environment, which could leave the whales more vulnerable to disease.”
Officials put guards near the carcass at the weekend to keep intrigued locals at a distance.
“It’s disgusting,” said one local man. “I don’t know how they’re going to remove it. Cut it up piece by piece?”
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Because it affected a tourist area, the Environmental Management Directorate and the Necochea Fish Farming and Hydrobiological Stations decided to bury the body in a dune located 150 meters from the place where it was found.
“We organized an operation to have it in the best possible place and we succeeded,” said the director of the area, Isabel Génova. The use of machinery was needed to make the well and move the animal.
For her part, Carina Arias from the Quequén Hydrobiological Station assured: “We take samples from the animal, both skin and cirripedia, parasites, muscle and fat, which will be placed in the freezer some and others in alcohol to later carry out different studies ”.
This Thursday another dead whale was found stranded on the breakwater of the Miramar Yacht Club and another in the Chapadmalal area.
“It is an absolutely novel phenomenon because it is very rare to find dead adults on the coast. And in this case it was not one, but three . Due to the context of the pandemic in which we are living, which makes it impossible for us, among other things, to be able to move to other locations, we find it necessary to take samples for research, but we are working on that, ”said the specialist, Diego Rodríguez , director of the Group of Marine Mammals of the National University of Mar del Plata and Conicet.
“At the moment we do not have any reason or hypothesis that allows us to know what happened. It’s kind of strange. The animals are physically well, they do not show signs of some kind of collision, “added the specialist.
Courtesy of todoprovincial.com
The death of whales in the world continues and this time it was in New Zealand, where on the North Island, 19 pilot whales died after being stranded as confirmed by authorities.
Courtesy of laverdadnoticias.com