Two More Dead Whales Wash Ashore in S.F. Bay

Biologist fear that climate change is causing malnutrition among the migrating whales, and we could see many more wash up in the months to come.

Image: Marine Mammal Center

The spring of 2018 was a tragic and terrible spell for whales in these parts, as five whales washed up dead during a three-month period this time last year. This year’s whale migration season is off to an ominous start, as KPIX reports that two dead grey whales washed ashore on Angel Island  near Tiburon this week. Both whales were one-year-old yearling females.

It’s highly unusual for these whales to even swim into the San Francisco Bay in the first place. While these whales generally swim past the bay on their annual trek from Baja, Mexico to the Alaska for the summer months, they normally don’t enter. But five of them swam into the bay last week, and biologists are concerned that climate change has left the whales desperate for alternative food sources and swimming in unfamiliar waters.

“Right now, they’re heading for Alaska. They’re in the poorest body condition they’re ever going to be in because they’ve gone through the winter with no feeding,” Marine Mammal Center chief pathologist Dr. Padraig Duignan tells KPIX. “It has to be a concern for us. It has to be an area of warning that perhaps something is changing drastically in their habitat in the north in the arctic waters, that they’re not getting enough food.”

The heartbreaking discovery of these dead whales coincides with today’s Worldwide Youth Climate Strike, a globally coordinated “school strike” where the kids are protesting the condition of the planet they’re inheriting. Hundreds of kids marched down Market Street here in San Francisco, joining more than a million doing the same worldwide in an effort whose mission states that “climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time.”

Now that we’ve thoroughly depressed everyone who loves and cares for these aquatic creatures, below you’ll see a little palate cleanser posted to Reddit just this morning. In the very same area in which the two adolescent whales succumbed, a couple more baby whales were spotted. Only one of the little whales is seen blowing from his spout, but still provides a nice reminder that the circle of life continues and we can build a better ecosystem for these majestic animals.

Baby whales surfacing near Angel Island. Ferry came to a slow just out of larkspur and we crawled on by to watch. Only caught the one on camera. from bayarea

If you encounter a beached what on bay shores, the Marine Mammal Center recommends maintaining a distance of at least 50 feet from them, and definitely keep dogs away from the carcass. You can report sick and injured marine animals to the center at (415) 289-SEAL (7325).

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