Dead Whale Washes Up on Ocean Beach (PICS)

Dead whale ocean beach 02.JPG
Stoke Report
Poor surfing -- and a dead whale
Continuing a rough spell for our Cetacean brethren, a large dead whale was today spotted on Ocean Beach.

The whale -- which at least appears to have been dead for some time -- washed up between Kirkham and Lawton. This is the third dead whale spotted in area waters of late.

Mary Jane Schramm, the media coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary,  told SF Weekly that Bay Area waters are teeming with whales right now. Because of upwelling associated with La Niña, local seas are stocked with the tiny krill humpbacks just love to eat. Scientists in July spotted a dead humpback near the Farallones that may have been struck by a boat; boaters were urged to not travel within 100 yards of a whale.

Sadly, a cargo ship was unable to follow that recommendation last week when it struck and killed a minke whale, and dragged it into the Port of Oakland.

Dead whale ocean beach.JPG
Stoke Report
Our calls to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and area scientists have not yet been returned.

Update, 10:25 a.m.: Schramm of the Gulf of the Farallones  National Marine Sanctuary showed the above photos to her colleagues and they believe this is a humpback whale. A crew of scientists is en route to Ocean Beach to examine the unfortunate creature. More when we know more.

Update: 1 p.m. Per Schramm, the scientists have ruled out that today's dead whale is neither a humpback nor a blue whale. It could be a minke whale, a fin whale ("we cant' see lower jaw; if it's white, then it's a fin whale."). The corpse could also be a young sei whale.

This could well be the same minke whale struck by the cargo ship last week: "There seems to be some kind of constriction around its midsection. Usually they put a tow rope around the tail stock -- but there could have been a fear it was so decomposed they got it around the midsection."

The whale is estimated at 30 to 35 feet, which would be large for a minke whale. Finally, Schramm notes that even dead whales are covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Human scavengers could be busted for federal crimes -- and, depending on the species of the whale, could also be brought up under the Endangered Species Act.

H/T   |   Stoke Report

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