Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gray whale washes ashore

A dead gray whale just over 30 feet long was discovered on the beach south of San Simeon on Saturday.

By Monday morning, the leviathan was reportedly already fairly decomposed and stinky. It’s on a State Parks beach about 300 yards south of Vista Del Mar, the southernmost street in San Simeon’s motel and residential areas, and approximately a mile north of San Simeon Creek.

The whale appears to be a 2-year-old female, according to Wayne Perryman, leader of the Cetacean Health and Life History Program for Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He said there’s no obvious cause of death, as the marine mammal appears to be of healthy weight, and there’s no sign of it being hit by a ship or a recent killer-whale attack.

“There are signs of an entanglement scar on the caudal peduncle, but they look old and partially healed,” Perryman said.

Attacks by killer whales caused the most recent reported beachings of dead whales on the North Coast. A 20-foot gray whale washed ashore south of Cambria in May 2011, and a 23-foot gray whale calf ended up north of Cayucos in May 2007.

Officials from the Marine Mammal Center and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History decided preliminarily not to do a full-scale necropsy to determine the cause of death, according to Perryman.

Nick Franco of State Parks said they would leave the whale on the beach and “let nature take its course.” He advised beach walkers to leave the carcass alone and to leave their dogs at home, because the dead whale is “really stinky.”

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/04/23/2040436/dead-gray-whale-washes-ashore.html#storylink=cpy

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