Author: Linda

Whales Die in Japan, and Two More Die in Alaska

Whales Die in Japan, and Two More Die in Alaska

Gray whales continue to wash up dead and emaciated, but causes remain elusive

Photo: Courtesy Flickr/Davie Schafer, CC BY 2.0

The death of a sea lion last month in Alaska turned up only 30 days after a whale was reported killed. According to the Alaskan Division of Wildlife, two additional whales have died, and two more were likely to die since last week.

A blue whale that was reportedly washed ashore in Baja California five years ago died in August of 2013, with the state of Sonora reporting another death there. The carcasses of two other whales were found in Mexico in 2012: one was presumed to have died after being washed up, but the other was deemed to have a heart attack and drowned before it could be recovered.

Two of the deaths in Japan last month were also considered “mysterious deaths,” leaving six whale deaths in Japan’s waters this year. In the first three months of this year, 18 whales have died in the country, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and many of those deaths were attributed to a lethal toxin that was probably involved in the deaths of several whales killed in the Bering Sea off Alaska, near Unalaska.

Of the six deaths last month, one was likely a strand jumper, with a dead blue whale that washed ashore in California’s San Juan Islands in August. A second likely strand jumper died in early September in the Bering Sea off Alaska.

Photo: Courtesy Flickr/Karin Buehler, CC BY 2.0

The Alaskan Department of Fish and Game reported last week that two whales had recently died in the state. The agency says that the most recent death was reported by a whale biologist on Sunday, March 11, who spotted the animal in the Bering Sea at a depth of about 3,000 feet. The whale was spotted alive but had to be helped to the surface by his crewmate, and it was spotted on an early-morning dive after the crewman had stopped work.

“It was not surprising,” the biologist said of seeing the whale alive on land after it was found at more than 3,000 feet beneath the surface.

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