California officials have recorded the 12th dead whale across the state in recent months after the animal washed up on the Pacifica State Beach shore on Friday afternoon and quickly started towing the creature’s body away.
Witnesses reported seeing a dead whale rolling in the surf at Pacifica State Beach to officials with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. The organization receives the calls at about 3:00 p.m. on Friday, marking the 12th of its kind to wash up dead on a Bay Area beach this year.
Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said the organization did not conduct a necropsy investigation because the dead whale was already in an advanced state of decomposition.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was responsible for removing the dead creature’s body from the beach.
On Saturday, the California Academy of Sciences collected tissue samples of the whale and confirmed it was a 47-foot adult male while the cause of death is still a mystery, Rulli said.
So far this year, officials recorded 10 gray whales, one pygmy sperm whale, and one fin whale were found dead on beach shores across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Official necropsy investigations found that two of the animals were confirmed to have died after being hit by ships while another two were only suspected of dying to ship strikes. The other eight animals had undetermined death causes, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“Over the last few years, our experts have observed gray whales frequenting San Francisco Bay in greater numbers and for longer periods of time. These whales are at increased risk from human activity, which is why we are committed to better understanding the ongoing challenges and threats these animals face so we can safely share the ocean and bay with them, the Director of Field Operations and Response with the Marine Mammal Center, Kathi George, said.