Employees at the California State Parks have reported that another whale was washed ashore on the Sonoma Coast, at the Portuguese beach. The 28-foot grey whale was already dead when it reached the shore and it was in an advanced process of decomposition. Park officials are still trying to find out the cause of death.
This is already the seventh whale found death on a Bay Area beach. The month of May is the of the migration period for gray whales. At this time of the year they are moving north from near Mexico, where they have they breeding grounds. The exact time when the whale was washed away could not be determined, but it is estimated that this happened on early Sunday or on Friday night. A non-profit research group, the Marine Mammal Center, sent a crew to help with the rescue of stranded small marine animals such as sea lions and elephant seals. The crew happened to be present there so they took a series of tissue sampled and tried to determine the cause of death.
Damien Jones from the California State Parks explained that the carcass of the whale does not present any signs of trauma injuries, which means that the mammal was not hit by a ship. He also added that they intend to leave the carcass of the animal on the beach so the tide can take it back to the ocean. According to Jones they usually do so with sick or dead animals. They leave them where they are so the nature can take its course.
Over the past five weeks a large number of whales were found on the California shores. On April 14 a 49-foot sperm whale was found dead. Its state of decomposition was so advanced that the cause of death could not be established. In this case the authorities could not let nature take its course since the odor was so strong so they buried the carcass instead. On the same beach another 50-foot whale was found stranded on May 4. It was a humpback whale which seems to have been hit by a ship. On the beach of Half Moon Bay a decomposed grey whale was found on May 18. The 40-foot mammal seems was hit by a ship as well.
Since May is the time when the migration season ends whale experts believe that more such cases will occur this month. Newborn and young whales together with their mother also take part in the journey and they are more exposed to predators.
Image Source: Benchmark Reporter