For the third time this year, a dead whale has washed up on the Mendocino County coast. Yesterday morning, a deceased humpback whale was discovered in the waters off of Fort Bragg.
Elaine Tavelli, a resident of Fort Bragg, was on the coastal trail when down below she noticed the carcass of what clearly is a humpback whale.
Tavelli told us she was biking along the Fort Bragg coastal trail when she saw others pointing toward the animal. Two rangers passed by her and also confirmed the animal to be a humpback whale.
We are choosing to withhold the exact location to mitigate onlookers as marine biologists and researchers determine the next steps with the whale.
One of the key visual cues that the animal is a humpback whale is the obvious Ventral pleats, the parallel Lines that run from underneath the animal’s mouth to its navel allowing the throat to expand as seawater rushes in during feeding.
On May 17, 2022, a rare, beaked whale washed up on the shores near Jughandle State reserve in Fort Bragg.
On July 29, 2022, A sperm whale washed up deceased on Portuguese Beach near the coastal town of Mendocino.
Sarah Grimes, The Noyo Center’s Stranding Coordinator, told us her comments are limited at this time but did acknowledge having received reports of the deceased whale.
The discovery of this humpback whale off the waters of Fort Bragg comes one week after a mother humpback whale was found dead at the Point Reyes national seashore, approximately 150 south of Fort Bragg. A necropsy is currently being performed as investigators work to determine the whale’s cause of death.
The humpback whale’s cause of death has yet to be determined, but researchers have found ship strikes are the leading cause of death for whales migrating along the Pacific Coast. Reporting in the San Francisco Chronicle quotes scientists and conservationists are advocating that containerships and oil tankers that use the coast as their shipping lane voluntarily slow their speed to allow the ocean going mammals time to get out of the way.
Humpback Whales include many subspecies, including the California/Oregon/Washington stock seen in the waters of the North Coast. Analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates the population off our coast is growing 8.2% per year.
If any members of the public find a dead animal washed up on the shores of Mendocino County, report them to Noyo Center’s Stranding Coordinator, Sarah Grimes at (707)-813-7925. If a live marine mammal in distress is located, contact the Marine Mammal Center at (415)-289-SEAL.