Mysterious Whale Deaths In Alaska Now Under Investigation

Whales are turning up dead along the Alaska coast in alarming numbers, and scientists so far have no idea what’s causing it.

Since May, 30 whales have been found dead along the coast, causing the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to declare and “unusual mortality event” on Thursday.

So far, the toll includes 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified cetaceans, according to the agency.

That compares to just five dead whales in all of last year.

“NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners are very concerned about the large number of whales stranding in the western Gulf of Alaska in recent months,” Dr. Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries’ marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator, said in a news release.

Rowles added:

“While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live. Members of the public can greatly assist the investigation by immediately reporting any sightings of dead whales or distressed live animals they discover.

So far, scientists have been able to reach just one of the 30 whale carcasses.

“Alaska has an awful lot of coastline and much of it is difficult to reach,” NOAA adviser Dr. Bree Witteveen told CBC. “We can’t get to those carcasses more often than not.”

The broadcaster said an additional six dead whales have turned up along the coast of British Columbia, and Canadian authorities are working closely with NOAA.

One theory is that a toxic algae bloom, created by warmer-than-usual waters off the West Coast, could be playing a role.

“That always concerns us because that means there’s probably a change in overall pathogen exposure, possibly harmful algal blooms and other factors,” —> Read More