(KRON) — Two dead gray whales were spotted in Point Reyes National Seashore this weekend, a representative from the Marine Mammal Center, confirmed to KRON4. One of the dead gray whales washed ashore at a beach in Marin County, KRON4 has learned. It was described as a 37-foot adult male gray whale.
The second dead whale was reported floating in the water off Point Bonita Lighthouse about a mile out on Friday morning, officials said. No further description of the whale was provided.
Earlier reports incorrectly stated the two sightings might have been of the same whale.
The two incidents marked the third and fourth time this year that a dead whale has washed up in the San Francisco Bay Area, during what Cal Academy officials are calling an “Unusual Mortality Event” for the species. Cal Academy is working with the Marine Mammal Center to mount a response to the dead whale, depending on tidal patterns and accessibility, the Cal Academy rep told KRON4.
Since 2019, there has been an uptick in gray whale strandings along the West Coast from Mexico up to Alaska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That year, there were 34 gray whale strandings along the California coast. Last year, there were 10 such reported strandings. This year, five have been reported statewide, including the three in the SF Bay Area.
Scientists don’t have a definitive answer as to why the whales are washing up dead, but the NOAA said that several of the whales “have shown evidence of emaciation.”
Malnutrition, entanglement and trauma from vessel strikes are the most common causes of death in whales identified by researchers with the Marine Mammal Center, according to a spokesperson.