Biologists to perform necropsy on dead whale near Fremont

FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU and wires) - Biologists will perform a necropsy Thursday on a dead whale that washed up near Fremont to determine what caused its death, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The 25-foot long carcass was discovered washed up on a rocky beach in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday just north of the Dumbarton Bridge, according to East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones.

A park ranger spotted the whale carcass about 150 to 200 yards south of the Alameda Creek Channel, Jones said.

"We had a lot of whales washing up on shore," said Mary Jane Schramm from the National Marine Sanctuaries, Gulf of the Farallones.

This is the second dead whale to turn up inside the bay this year, but this one ended up more than 30 miles south of the Golden Gate.

"There's a good chance that strong incoming currents could have brought that in," said Schramm.

It has a fair amount of decomposition, so it's clear that the mammal had been dead for some time before being discovered by a park ranger.

Schramm has worked with whales for decades. She's says it was a gray whale, possibly born earlier this year.

"Gray whales are kind of like the whales in the neighborhood. They're the most coastal of all the large whale species we have in this region, and they like to migrate near shore," she explained.

Schramm acknowledges that there have been more dead whales washing up on Bay Area shorelines than usual, but she says, it's actually surprising there haven't been even more.

"Since we have so much marine life out here, we have so many whales in the area this year. We've been blessed with an abundance of it. But they would very often die of normal causes, natural causes," said Schramm. "But because of these strong winds and currents bringing their bodies closer into shore, we are finding them more often."

It may be a few days before we know biologists can determine the cause of death. A ship strike is a good possibility, partly because a ship's crew did report feeling what could have been a whale strike a few days ago. They even reported seeing blood in the water. But then, since this is a juvenile whale, it could have been the mother that was hit.

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