Posted by: The ocean update | May 24, 2016

Whale washes ashore near Shelter Cove (California, USA)

A 17 to 18 foot long juvenile gray whale washed up on Black Sands Beach north of Shelter Cove on Sunday. Photos courtesy of Philip Young.

A 17 to 18 foot long juvenile gray whale washed up on Black Sands Beach north of Shelter Cove on Sunday. Photos courtesy of Philip Young.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016. Humboldt State University Marine Mammal Stranding Program Director Dawn Goley said a stranding crew should be on site with the whale now.

“We’re just kind of in the reconnaissance phase now,” she said.

The whale looked to be in the tide line so it may have gotten sucked back out to sea but if it’s still there the team will be able to identify the whale’s sex and why it got stranded, Goley said.

Calfs and juvenile whales are migrating north with their mothers along the California coast from Baja California so it’s not uncommon to see stranded whales this time of year, she said.

PREVIOUSLY:

A whale washed up on Black Sands Beach north of Shelter Cove on Sunday.

Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District General Manager Philip Young said he saw it this morning and that it is possibly a juvenile California gray whale that is 17 to 18 feet long.

“There are some reports that it was still alive when it washed ashore, others said it was attacked by sharks while in the water. The photos will reveal very few bite marks, and certainly none that are fatal, nor persistent bites on its pectorals and tail,” he said in an email to the Times-Standard. “Photos of the head reveal marks which could be ‘ulcers or body sores,’ an indication it might have been sick. Lastly, the vertebrae towards the tail are pronounced, indicating it might have been malnourished. It’s body is already starting to bloat from internal decay.”

Young added that he didn’t see the whale wash up so the stories of shark attacks may just be rumors.

“When you see the photos there aren’t many shark bites,” he said.

The whale is starting to decay but Young said the smell wasn’t overpowering when he took photos.

“I could walk right up to the whale,” he said. “The blow hole was bubbling so internal decay is underway.”

The whale’s body is on the beach about a half mile north of the Bureau of Land Management parking lot, Young said.

Calls have been made and emails sent to get more information on the beaching incident from a local whale expert. This story will be updated as more information is made available.

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