VIDEO: Dead, 30-foot-long whale washes ashore at Pt. Reyes in Marin County

Credit: The Marine Mammal Center


MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — Authorities are awaiting necropsy results to determine what killed a whale that washed ashore at Pt. Reyes National Seashore on Christmas Eve.

A team from the California Academy of Sciences examined the whale on Christmas Day. They determined it’s a male humpback around 30 feet long.

A larger team was back at the seashore on Tuesday to conduct a necropsy.

They are trying to determine the exact cause of death.

Here is the full statement from The Marine Mammal Center:

(SAUSALITO, Calif. – December 26, 2017) – A team of five scientists from The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, responded to a stranded humpback whale carcass this morning at North Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. During the early stages of the necropsy, Center scientists confirmed that the animal was a juvenile male humpback whale. Initial necropsy findings revealed tissue bruising to the right lateral side of the body in the head and neck area.

“The opportunity to perform a necropsy on a carcass in good condition like this will help contribute to our baseline data on the species,” says Barbie Halaska, research assistant at The Marine Mammal Center. “Based on the evidence collected during the necropsy, our team is able to rule out the possibility of a ship strike and plans to send the skin and muscle tissue for further testing to try to determine the animal’s cause of death.”

Center scientists also noted that the animal had a substantial layer of fat and had been recently eating based on the stomach’s contents. A full necropsy report will be available within 2 weeks.

When it comes to human impacts, ship strikes are a leading cause of whale mortality, along with entanglement in fishing gear.

The Center’s rescue department first received public reports of the stranded cetacean Sunday afternoon. The Center has responded to 27 humpback whales in its 42-year history, including a response to Humphrey in 1985 and 1990, and Delta and Dawn in 2007 – all three in the San Francisco Bay.

Humpback whales are among the most endangered whales in the world and fewer than 10 percent of their original population remains. However, in recent years, humpbacks have been observed more and more frequently feeding along the California coast. Nearly 1,400 humpbacks frequent the California coast in the summer and fall. The current global population is estimated between 35,000 and 40,000.

Limited images are available for download and media use here:
Also in this folder is a document with caption and credit information.

• Report sick and injured marine mammals to The Marine Mammal Center by calling 415-289-SEAL (7325)
• Maintain a safe distance of at least 50 feet from a stranded cetacean and keep dogs away.
• The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit facility and depends on donations from members of the public to respond to and care for animals such as this stranded cetacean. Visit to help the Center perform its life-saving work.

At The Marine Mammal Center, we are guided and inspired by a shared vision of a healthy ocean for marine mammals and humans alike. Our mission is to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education. Since 1975, the Center has been headquartered in the Marin Headlands, Sausalito, Calif., within the Golden Gate National Parks and has rescued and treated nearly 20,000 marine mammals. In 2014, the Center opened Ke Kai Ola, a hospital for the rehabilitation of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

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