Two dead whales found off Kodiak Island last week

Last week two dead gray whales were confirmed off Kodiak Island adding to concerns by biologists that something is adversely affecting the population as it migrates north to summer feeding grounds in Arctic waters.

In an email update, NOAA spokesperson Julie Speegle said the first whale had been reported on the June 5 but was not sited during an aerial survey on June 6. The following day, that whale, which had originally been reported as floating in Portage Bay, was found on the beach.

A team, which included NOAA Fisheries Veterinarian Dr. Kate Savage, was able to land at the Portage Bay carcass and get samples.

Savage noted that the whale was about 30 feet long and had evidence of killer whale predation. It was reported to be in a state of advanced decomposition.

Dead gray whale floating on northern side of Aiaktalik Island. Taken June 7, 2019. NOAA/Kate SavageNOAA/Glenn Sheckells

The second whale was located during another aerial survey done on June 7. That male was floating off Aiaktalik Island, which is south of Russian Harbor and North of Sitkinak Island on the southeast side of Kodiak Island.

Savage reported that whale also had advanced decomposition. 

Many of the whales that have washed up on Alaska shorelines show signs of malnutrition. The NOAA officials have recently declared what’s called an “Unusual Mortality Event” because of the large number of gray whale strandings along the U.S. west coast and Alaska.

NOAA Fisheries plans to continue conducting coastal surveys and asks anyone sighting what looks like a dead whale to take a photo and call the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline.

That toll-free number is 877-925-7773.

Dead gray whale floating in Portage Bay, Kodiak Island. Taken June 6, 2019. NOAA/Glenn Sheckells

 

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