A startling discovery of yet another dead grey whale on San Francisco Bay’s Ocean Beach was made May 6th, 2019. This is the ninth grey whale to wash up dead on these shores since March 2019. This particular whale is thought to have been killed by an impact with a ship, however, also showed signs of malnutrition.
Examinations carried out by the The Marine Mammal Center show that four of the other whales were killed by an impact with ships, three by malnutrition and one by causes yet determined. It was also noted that it is usual for 1-3 whales to be found dead in this area during the entire migration season which puts the current count at three times the normal rate.
Grey whales normally migrate through the San Francisco area twice yearly in Decembers/January and again in April/May. The whales are travelling from their feeding ground in Alaska to their breeding ground in Baja, California which is 11 000 miles away.
Scientists are speculating that the grey whales are having trouble finding food in Alaska and as a result do not have enough nourishment to make the long journey to Baja. Scientists have also observed the whales feeding in San Francisco waters, giving birth in the open ocean prior to arriving at their breeding ground and as a result arriving later in Baja, all of which are highly unusual activity for these mammals.
It appears that the death of the whales were caused by human activity either by direct impact with ships or indirectly by climate change. Although grey whale populations are currently stable, marine scientists are fearful that this might not be the case for long.