More Whales Wash Up Dead in S.F. Bay

Two dead whales washed ashore on Friday, the fourth and fifth to surface in the Bay Area in the last three months.

Image: Helen Keohane via The Marine Mammal Center

It’s been a rough spring for whales making their annual migration to Alaska, at least here in the San Francisco Bay. Two separate fatally injured whales were discovered on Friday according to KPIX, including the fin whale seen above found floating lifeless in an estuary at Oakland’s Jack London Square.

That’s in addition to a gray whale found washed ashore Friday in Marin County’s Tennessee Valley Beach. Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary spokesperson Mary Jane Schramm tells KQED that whale was “apparently hit by a ship with clear, precise cuts along its back and side.”

The Marine Mammal Center says in a Friday release that, “Ship strikes are a leading cause of whale mortality, along with entanglement in fishing gear,” and that “When large vessels such as container ships are involved, the ship’s crew may be unaware a strike has occurred. As such, the number of ship strikes to whales is likely under-reported.”

These two whales are the fourth and fifth dead whales that have washed up in the San Francisco Bay since March of this year. While two in one day is highly unusual for the area, the nine total dead whales found on the California coast thus far in 2018 lags behind the 24 dead whales that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded on the coastline last year. But that rate may increase as we get further into whale migration season.

The Marine Mammal Center also recommends you maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from stranded whales, and to keep dogs away from them. You can also report sick and injured marine mammals to the center by calling (415) 289-SEAL (7325).

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