On average, up to ten gray whales wash up on the san francisco beaches every year. However, this year, the figure is already nine and marine experts are racking their brains trying to get the answer. It is certainly strange to find that the annual number has been reached in a matter of weeks. The latest one was discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Marine Mammal Center conducted a necropsy and found the cause to be a collision with a ship. Such accidental deaths do happen and records of the center say it was the cause for three previous fatalities.

It has added that four others died from malnutrition, while it was not possible to establish the cause of death of one.

Daily Mail UK reports that biologists attached to the center have observed many of these gray whales migrate from Mexico to Alaska. Biologists noted that the condition of these whales was not good. They appeared to be starving.

Inadequate sources of food

Chief pathologist of the Marine Mammal Center has informed a section of the media that “Normally when a whale floats in, it ends up on its back.” Such a body position permits easy access to the relevant parts of the body like the abdominal cavity, rear portion of the head, and back of the thorax etcetera.

Injuries in these areas could result when colliding with a large object like a ship. However, the ninth one that landed in the San Francisco Bay Area was lying on its stomach. This made it all the more difficult to perform their tests.

Daily Mail UK goes on to add that one gets an impression that the gray whales are probably finding it difficult to get enough food.

Experts feel the warming ocean conditions have affected their food supplies. These usually consist of krill and small shrimp-like animals to small fish. This can be considered to be a hitherto unknown result of global warming where food supplies vanish and large animals like gray whales suffer from malnutrition. Another factor is plastic pollution because there are instances of whales dying from ingestion of plastic products.

Gray whales were in the Endangered Species List

According to CNN, today, there are about 26,000 gray whales, found only in the Pacific Ocean. However, there was a time in the late 1800s and again in the early 1900s, when their population had plummeted to less than 2,000 because humans hunted them down. Subsequently, an international agreement of 1946 put a stop to the hunting. That helped them recover and in 1994, they were removed from the Endangered Species List.

Regarding the gray whales that washed up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the opinion of biologists of the Marine Mammal Center is that the physical condition of some was poor. This could be possibly "due to anomalous oceanic conditions." They have also mentioned that one of the contributory factors could be "shifting food sources."