Dead whales continue to wash ashore in Northern California, but a scientist said it's likely nothing to worry about.
According to NBC Bay Area
, roughly a dozen dead whales have been reported since April along the shores between Santa Cruz and Mendocino County. The most recent include a juvenile gray whale found Sunday in Sonoma County, and another that ran aground in Point Reyes National Seashore beach on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, scientists noted that while the number is unusually high, the phenomenon is likely caused by an increase in whale populations — not an uptick in the death rate itself.
"Ordinarily these deaths would occur at sea and we would probably be none the wiser, we simply have an abundance of whales right now for all species," said Mary Jane Schramm, a spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
"One of the reasons we are seeing such a cluster at one time is we have very strong winds that have been blowing consistently that are washing things onto shore," she added.
Point Reyes park spokesman John Dell'Osso said that biologists have taken samples from the most recent whale and sent them to the California Academy of Sciences for examination. There, any threats to the whale population deemed out of the ordinary can likely be determined. Under consideration will be environmental changes, food distribution, shipping, and predator behavior, The Associated Press reported
Of the most recent gray whale to wash ashore, Schramm said the condition of the carcass suggested "it could be a killer whale attack" that caused the death.
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