30 large whales found dead along the coast of Alaska, a cause remains unknown


30 dead large whales have been found since May 2015, along the Western Gulf of Alaska and southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula. Simultaneous increase in the number of large whale strandings in British Columbia, Canada, got the scientists on both ends to start an active investigation. The "Unusual Mortality Event" (UME) for large whales has been declared for the first time on Alaska. 

An unusually high number of large whale deaths has been reported across the Western Gulf of Alaska, in the regions around Kodiak Island, Afognak Island, Chirikof Island and the Semidi Islands, and along the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula. 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale and four unidentified whale species have been found dead in the Western Gulf of Alaska.

Video credit: CBC News

The first whale death was reported in Marmot Bay on Kodiak Island, on May 23, 2015 and large whale strandings have continued since. This series of large whale deaths have been declared as an "Unusual Mortality Event" (UME), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported.

The total number of 30 dead whales, reported since May, is over three times the average for the area. This unusual jump in death numbers across the western Gulf of Alaska has prompted an official investigation.

Large whale strandings in the Western Gulf of Alaska. Image credit: NOAA

To add to the unusual event, the researchers of British Columbia, Canada have reported an increase in large whale strandings during the months of July and August. This summer, uncommon numbers of bird deaths has also been reported across the Alaska Peninsula. However, it's not clear whether these deaths are in any way connected.

"NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners are very concerned about the large number of whales stranding in the western Gulf of Alaska in recent months. 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." Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries' marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator, said in a statement.

Bears feeding on a whale carcass, Alaska. Image credit: NOAA

Most whale carcasses have been floating and were not retrievable, NOAA reported. Therefore, the scientists have been able to collect a tissue sample from only one of the 30 carcasses. It could take a few months, even years to find the cause of sharp increase in whale mortality in the area.

As a part of the UME investigation process, the scientists will cooperate to review the collected data and sample future whales that strand. Although many people tend to blame the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 for animal deaths, NOAA said the preliminary analysis shows no signs of such contamination, although conclusive results are yet to be provided.

Featured image: Stranded large whale carcass, Alaska coast, August 20, 2015. Image credit: CBC News.

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  1. It’s called radiation poisoning, it’s coming from Japan, it’s going everywhere… Slow death is at our doorstep, and Washington isn’t about telling us the good news! What happened to just fix it dummy, seems the rest of the world has collapsed under the weight of doing absolutely nothing to save ourselves, and we thought Washington Politics couldn’t get any worse!

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    These questions didn’t matter when Barrack Obama was running for office. These details about the Donald’s Immigration plan are more substantive then were any other politicians to date, what matters is Trumps has Skin in the Game, whereas these other yahoos have nothing of consequence except their rhetoric, words that often mean nothing… We know where that’s gotten the American taxpayer for the past 2 decades. These Career politicians are banking on the Stock Market putting the fear of God into the hearts of our seniors, into those people and their retirement plans that are in dire straights right now. Career Politicians will stop at nothing to secure their Legacy, change is an illusion to them. We’ve heard the speeches, we’ve voting to clear the way for them to do what they said they would do, they’ve done nothing… It’s time for someone like a Donald J. Trump from the Private Sector who hasn’t been in politics, but knows of all their wares and what they can do and can’t do!

    People should consider a person’s motive behind such public outbursts as had said to have taking place in this venue at the time in Alabama when Trump was campaigning and someone yelled something racial. This was a Ferguson attribute, a Baltimore theme song not relevant to Trump’s Campaign speech in the slightest. It’s obvious the journalistic integrity of this reporting is once again slanderous in nature and has absolutely nothing to do with the Donald. This was purely and simply another attempt at trying to take Donald J. Trump out of the political sphere based on false accusations, innuendo, and rather shoddy gamesmanship on the part of some of the other candidates that are running out of options for doing so. Hillary Clinton comes to mind, the Bush family, and possibly some people within President Barack Obama’s Administration. We all know what happened to JFK and Mr. Foster to name just two people that were involved in bucking the Political Establishment. Protect Donald J. Trump from assassins seeking to do him real harm.

  2. While I don’t want to undermine the seriousness of the possible results of the Fukushima disaster, I also would like to point out that human interaction with these whales could be at play here. I lived in Alaska for 18 yrs; 5 of those years being in Nome. The Eskimos are allowed to subsistence hunt which I think is a good thing in continuing their culture. BUT…it was also not uncommon for Native Alaskans with less than cultural purposes to kill whales merely for their teeth or baleen. In 1982, some friends and I were driving the beach West of Nome for many miles and I personally counted 62 dead walrus without their heads (wall mounts) or oosiks, 2 killer whales without their teeth and 3 seal without their oosiks. (Google it…I’m not going to tell you what an oosik is here). The practice is to just go out in a boat and start shooting. Some of the animals killed will wash up on a beach, while some will sink or some will just be lost. Since the scientists were unable to retrieve any piece of most of the dead whales found and they were unable to thoroughly examine them, it could be that at least some of these whales were taken by humans and the humans might have retrieved what they needed: teeth or baleen, then the rest was left. I’m just saying the possibility of either Natives or even non-natives killing these magnificent animals should also be taken into account.

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