According to the Marine Mammal Center, another gray whale carcass has washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area. The animal was found in Point Reyes National Seashore near Limantour and marks the 13th dead whale to be found since March.
The Marine Mammal Center plans a necropsy to determine what killed the whale.
Whale sightings in the bay area has increased significantly in the Bay area since March and researchers are pointing to the fact the whales are starving. A number of species of whales migrate from the warmer waters in the Baja Pacific during the winter to the rich feeding grounds of Alaska for the summer but many of the whales are stopping and making extended stays half way through their journey.
Scientists believe that whales are not finding enough fish on their migration so they stop in hopes of finding food to give them enough energy for the remainder of the journey.
A few of the dead whales have shown signs of emaciation while others appear to be killed by ship strikes, which could be an indirect result of them staying in heavily congested San Francisco Bay for longer periods of time.
Fish stocks have been on a sharp decline due to the amount of super trawlers making their way through the oceans depleting stocks. Nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This directly completes with whales ability to survive and thrive as they traverse the oceans.
As well, research biologist John Calambokidis has said climate change could be a factor as weather shifts in the Arctic could be weakening the marine mammals food supply. He did note that another cause could be a boost in the gray whale population, which means more competition for food.
Gray whales, which have a life expectancy of 55 to 70 years, usually grow up to 50 feet long and weigh about 40 tons.