A threefold increase in whale strandings in the western Gulf of Alaska has prompted a government investigation.
The mysterious deaths of 30 large whales in the western Gulf of Alaska is being declared an “unusual mortality event” by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the agency said Thursday.
Since May 2015, 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified marine mammals have been stranded around the islands of the western Gulf of Alaska and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula. To date, this brings the number of whale strandings for this region to almost three times the historical average, according to a statement from NOAA.
“NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners are very concerned about the large number of whales stranding in the western Gulf of Alaska in recent months,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries’ marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator in a statement. “While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live. Members of the public can greatly assist the investigation by immediately reporting any sightings of dead whales or distressed live animals they discover.”
Only one whale of the 30 reported has been sampled, and scientists have been unable to determine a cause of death.
Full article: Why did 30 whales die in the Gulf of Alaska? (The Christian Science Monitor)