Gray whales were probably killed by a ship, researchers say

Two gray whales found dead this week in Northern Puget Sound probably died after they were struck by a large ship, according to a summary report by John Calambokidis and Jessie Huggins of Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia.

The report was written following a necropsy of the two whales.

Although there have been lots of gray whale sightings around Whidbey Island this spring, so far we have seen fewer deaths than average. These are the third and fourth gray whales found dead this year in Washington state.

What is odd about these two deaths is that they appear to be unrelated, and both animals appeared to be relatively healthy at the time of their death, according to the report, which includes photos.

“Both showed signs of traumatic injuries, although we are awaiting further tests to be sure these were the ultimate cause of death,” the report states. “Whales are known to die from ship and boat strikes and these injuries can sometimes be hard to spot especially once decomposition has set in.”

Personally, I can’t remember any deaths like this in recent years, and to have two dead whales from traumatic injuries this close together seems especially odd.

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