25-foot gray whale determined deceased Wednesday
By Sam Catanzaro
A 25-foot gray whale that washed up Dockweiler Beach near Marina del Rey this week has been declared deceased.
According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Lifeguard Division around 4 p.m. Wednesday, lifeguards and Marine Animal Rescue (MAR) responded to a report of a whale inside the surf line just south of Marina del Rey. Lifeguards and MAR personnel were instructed by the National Marine Fisheries Services to not assist the emaciated whale–a 25-foot gray whale–in hopes that it would return to deeper water on the high tide. Around 8 p.m., however, the animal was unfortunately determined to be deceased by marine mammal specialists on scene.
On Thursday morning the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County conducted a necropsy of the animal. Beaches and Harbors Los Angeles County is coordinating the removal of the whale.
During summer, gray whales live in the Arctic in areas rich in their food, bottom-dwelling organisms. As fall arrives, however, there is less sunlight, less food, and the water turns cold, and the whales swim to Baja California, Mexico where they enter lagoons to give birth and mate. Therefore, gray whales can be observed passing by California in December and January during their southern migration, and again in March, April, and May on their northern journey. As human activity has increased along gray whales’ migration route, these mammals are facing a new set of challenges.
“Gray whales generally stay around the continental shelf and are truly a coastal species…[and] migrate relatively close to shore,” the Marine Mammal Center writes on their website. “Concern has grown about the impact of boat traffic around whales.”
In the 17th century, gray whales were on the verge of extinction due to commercial whaling, and while the Pacific Ocean population has since recovered, groups in the Atlantic Ocean never did. There are currently around 26,000 gray whales found throughout the world, all in the Pacific Ocean, and their Eastern North Pacific stock is the largest group. According to the Marine Mammal Center, gray whales have the longest migrations of any mammal.