It was not a good sign that a gray whale had been sticking in the waters of the SF Bay since February, and we now know he’d been hit by ships twice, and has been found dead at the Point Reyes National Seashore.
We reported in late April that one certain gray whale had been in the San Francisco Bay for a record two months, but that is not a good record for a whale to set. Gray whales are supposed to be migrating northward between mid-February and mid-May, and it was a bad sign that this 39-foot male adult gray whale was not moving onward from the Bay waters.
A gray whale has been in #SanFrancisco Bay for over two months- a record amount of time. I’ll tell you how come & why scientists say it might not be a good thing, tonight at 11 on @abc7newsbayarea. (Photos courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center/NOAA 26532). pic.twitter.com/ysgMtOh1t0— Tim Johns (@tim_johns_) April 26, 2023
Now that whale’s health concerns have been confirmed, as the Chronicle reports that same whale was found dead washed ashore this weekend at a northern beach of the Point Reyes National Seashore. A second 37-foot male whale was also found dead not far away.
If you don’t like seeing dead, injured whales, you may not want to scroll down to see the following image.
They attribute multiple rib and spinal fractures to an initial strike and skull fractures likely from the final, and fatal, strike to this animal. Positioning of the second whale limited the teams’ ability to investigate fully, and they were unable to determine a cause of death. pic.twitter.com/WlTonrfI35— The Marine Mammal Center (@TMMC) May 11, 2023
“To respond to two known gray whales on consecutive days, including one that our team has been actively monitoring for months in San Francisco Bay, is challenging and concerning to say the least,” Marine Mammal Center director of pathology Dr. Pádraig Duignan said in a press release. “As sentinels for ocean health, gray whales face several human-caused threats including vessel strikes."
According to the Marine Mammal Center, the whale who’d spent more than two months in the bay died from a “probable vessel strike and malnutrition,” and appeared to have been hit by two boats on separate occasions. The other whale appeared healthy, and its cause of death is unknown.
This past Sunday, a photographer caught images of a shark feasting on a whale, which we now know was the record-setting whale. And we mentioned today in our morning links that crab fishers were testing whale-friendly crab traps, though those won’t solve the problem of ships colliding with whales.
Image: @TMMC via Twitter