The Marine Mammal Center has determined the whale that washed up on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on Monday had died from blunt force trauma from being hit by a ship.
“We’re incredibly concerned to discover the death of four gray whales due to ship strikes already this year, along with deaths attributed to malnutrition,” says Dr. Padraig Duignan, Chief Research Pathologist at The Marine Mammal Center. “While this is a tragic discovery, the information gathered from these whales is shared directly with our partners, helping inform policy decisions that can protect habitat areas, change shipping lane speeds that intersect migration routes and better understand shifting food sources for marine mammals.”
Scientists discovered that the female whale had multiple fractures to the skull and upper vertebrae with serious bruising and hemorrhaging in the same area.
The necropsy showed that the whale was in the early stages of decomposition. The whale was in poor condition with a thin blubber layer.
This is the 9th whale to wash ashore Bay Area beaches this year.
Of the 9 that washed ashore, four whales were determined to have low nutrition for how much they were traveling. Three of them were hit by a ship.
Additionally, officials said it’s not normal that the whales are coming to the Bay Area to feed, as they usually go straight to Alaska from Mexico and then back.
The last time this happened in the Bay Area was 20 years ago.
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