Recently, A northern right whale dolphin washed ashore on Manzanita Beach, near Portland, Oregon on Saturday.
According to Seaside Aquarium, the mammal was a 5 foot female and they were surprised to find her washed ashore this far north.
In a Facebook post, the aquarium voiced there concern:
“(Lissodelphis borealis) washed ashore on Manzanita Beach on the Oregon Coast. These beautiful animals tend to live much further south and in deeper offshore waters (although they can range as far north as Alaska). Distribution depends on ocean conditions. Both north and south movements have been documented in association with changes in water temperature (moving south during colder water temperature periods and north during warmer water periods). Since 1995, when the Seaside Aquarium became involved with the Northern Oregon/Southern Washington Marine Mammal Stranding Network, we have only seen four of these unique dolphins. Named after the northern right whale, which also does not have a dorsal fin, the northern right whale dolphin is known to travel in groups of up to 2,000 individuals, although they are more often is found in social groups of 200-300. They are also often found in association with other cetacean species, such as Pacific white-sided dolphins, humpback whales, and Dall’s porpoise.
The largest threat to to these pelagic dolphins is from high-sea drift nets. Unregulated until recently, it was believed that these drift nets were responsible for a 24 to 73% population decline. Today high-sea drift nets in Oregon and California are required by law to use pingerdevices that deliver acoustic warnings into the water column to reduce cetacean by-catch.
This particular animal was picked up by the Seaside Aquarium and transferred to Portland State University where a necropsy was preformed. Preliminary results from the necropsy were inconclusive and we are waiting on more test results to see if we can narrow down the cause of death.
Though sad, this has given us a unique opportunity to learn a little more about this incredible species. A huge thanks to the Nehalem Bay State Park for reporting the animal so quickly.”
Marine animals face more threats than ever due to human activities including pollution, overfishing particularly with destructive fishing methods, shipping vessels and loss of habitat.
In April of this year, undercover footage revealed how devastating driftnet are and since then, the California Senate voted 32-0 to replace mile-long drift gillnets off the coast of California with cleaner fishing gear. Change is possible in protecting our oceans but action needs to take place. Writing your representatives or calling upon companies to take action is a great first step.