Federal authorities say the number of dead gray whales reported in Alaska is now up to 10. That’s following the discovery of three more whale carcasses in Southeast Alaska.
A necropsy is underway this week on a fresh carcass discovered near Wrangell. Two more dead whales were reported Tuesday: a beached gray whale on Kruzof west of Sitka. And a fresh carcass floating near Anette Island south of Ketchikan. The whale near Sitka is remote and too far decomposed to study, but NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Julie Speegle says biologists hope to examine the floating carcass near Ketchikan.
“Any member of the public who happens to see it, if they could please report it to us. It happens to be a fresh carcass and we’d really love to have the opportunity to perform a necropsy on it,” Speegle said.
NOAA receives about 10 or 11 reports a year. But with more than 160 dead gray whales reported from Mexico to Alaska, the federal agency is concerned.
“Normally this wouldn’t cause alarm. However given the high number of gray whale moralities all along the west coast this year, it’s something that we are keeping a close eye on,” Speegle said. “We certainly want to help try and figure out what is causing these gray whales to die.”
NOAA Fisheries has declared an “unusual mortality event” to investigate the causes of the wide-spread die-off. Current theories point to climate change possibly disrupting the gray whales food source.