Posted by: The ocean update | May 5, 2015

Fifth Dead Whale In 3 Weeks Washes Ashore NorCal Beach (USA)

A dead whale washes ashore on Pacifica beach, May 5, 2015. (CBS)

A dead whale washes ashore on Pacifica beach, May 5, 2015. (CBS)

May 5th, 2015. PACIFICA (CBS SF) — Scientists are hoping to examine a female juvenile humpback whale that washed ashore in Pacifica on Sharp Park Beach, making it the fifth dead whale to wash ashore a Northern California beach in three weeks.

The 32-foot-long whale was first spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard late Monday at the southern end of the beach, according to the Marine Mammal Center.

A scientist from the California Academy of Sciences responded to the scene this morning, but because of the tides and the location of the whale, researchers will not be able to do a necropsy to determine a cause of death. They might return Wednesday to try to collect tissue samples, center officials said.

The whale was found not far from where a dead 48-foot male sperm whale washed ashore on April 14, on Mori Point at the southern end of the beach.  Marine Mammal Center officials said they believed it was a coincidence that two whale strandings occurred on the same beach within the same month.

Several days later, a killer whale also beached itself north of Fort Bragg. Researchers flocked to the Mendocino coast to investigate the rare occurrence. However, they aren’t expected to come to any conclusions as to why the 25-foot creature came ashore to die.

Then on April 24,  two gray whale carcasses washed up on a a Santa Cruz County beach.

A 40-foot adult gray whale was found near Waddell Beach. There was no evidence of a ship strike in his death and researchers said it had likely been dead for days.

The second 23-foot yearling found at Pajaro Dunes had killer whale teeth marks on its body and was missing its tongue and jaw. Researchers said its death was likely the result of an orca attack.

The center has responded to 21 humpback whales over the past 40 years, including the famous Humphrey, who became lost in the San Francisco Bay in 1985 and 1990.

Sperm whale strandings are relatively rare, with only 17 reported to the center in the past 40 years. The last one prior to this year was found in 2008 in Point Reyes and was determined to have died after swallowing more than 450 pounds of garbage.

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