Five dead whales washed up on Washington state’s shores in June, continuing the alarming trend of increasing gray whale strandings along the Pacific coast, according to local outlet FOX12.
Washington state’s coast records 4-6 gray whale deaths in a typical year, according to FOX12. The June number of beachings aligns with a significant increase in gray whale strandings along the Pacific coast since 2019, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared an “unusual mortality event,” according to its website.
NOAA defines a stranding as when marine animals like whales “are found dead, either on the beach or floating in the water, or alive on the beach and unable to return to the water,” according to its website. NOAA has identified malnourishment due to ecological changes in the gray whales’ feeding waters, vessel strikes and killer whale predation as likely causes that are driving the strandings and the unusual mortality event. (RELATED: Biden Admin Pumps More Money Into Offshore Wind Turbines Despite Mounting Whale Deaths)
NOAA has recorded 30 gray whale strandings off the American Pacific coast in 2023 so far, according to its website. The agency has recorded at least 333 gray whale strandings in the U.S. since 2019, according to the same data.
The NOAA recorded stranded gray whales in the coastal regions of Mexico, Canada, California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, according to its website. The gray whales primarily feed in northern waters during the summer season, consuming much less as they migrate south and remain in warmer waters for the winter, its website reads.
The migratory and feeding patterns of the whales help to explain the seasonal and locational distributions of their recorded strandings along the Pacific coast, according to NOAA’s website.
The gray whale population has decreased by about 40% over the last seven years, FOX12 reported.
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