(ORDO NEWS) — For the third time this year, a dead whale washed up on the coast of Mendocino County. A dead humpback whale was found in the waters off Fort Bragg yesterday morning.
Elaine Tavelli, a resident of Fort Bragg, was walking along a coastal path when she spotted the carcass of what appeared to be a humpback whale below.
Tavelli told us she was cycling along the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail when she saw others pointing at the animal. Two rangers drove past her, who also confirmed that the animal was a humpback whale.
We have chosen not to disclose the exact location of the animal so as not to attract the attention of outsiders while marine biologists and researchers determine how to proceed with the whale.
One of the key visual clues that an animal is a humpback whale is the obvious ventral folds – parallel lines running from the bottom of the animal’s mouth to its navel, allowing the throat to expand as seawater enters during feeding.
On May 17, 2022, a rare beaked whale washed ashore near the Jug Handle State Sanctuary at Fort Bragg.
On July 29, 2022, a sperm whale washed up dead on a Portuguese beach near the coastal town of Mendocino.
Sarah Grimes, the Noyo Center’s coordinator of outreach, told us that her comments are limited for now, but acknowledged reports of the dead whale.
The sighting of this humpback whale in Fort Bragg waters comes a week after the mother of the humpback whale was found dead on the Point Reyes National Seashore, about 150 meters south of Fort Bragg.
A necropsy is currently being performed and investigators are trying to determine the whale’s cause of death.
While the cause of humpback whale death has not yet been determined, researchers have found that ship strikes are the leading cause of death for whales migrating along the Pacific coast.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, scientists and conservationists are calling for container ships and oil tankers using the coast as a shipping lane to voluntarily slow down to give ocean mammals time to get out of the way.
Humpback whales include many subspecies, including the California/Oregon/Washington whales found off the northern coast.
An analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that the population off our coast is growing at 8.2% per year.
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