30-foot gray whale washes ashore in Richmond, cause of death to be determined

A 30-foot female gray whale washed ashore in Richmond Wednesday morning. 6/5/2024. Photo © The Marine Mammal Center 

The Marine Mammal Center confirmed a 30-foot female gray whale washed ashore in Richmond on Wednesday morning. The whale is being towed to Angel Island for a necropsy, officials say. 

The animal autopsy will determine the whale's cause of death, but due to wind conditions in the bay, when the necropsy will be performed is yet to be determined. 

The whale was first seen floating on the bay east of Tiburon near Angel Island State Park on Monday. The Marine Mammal Center said it was later sighted in the Richmond Harbor Channel by their researchers on Tuesday. 

Experts said the whale's body was moderately decomposed and bloated due to exposure to the elements. 

The Center said this is the second gray whale they and their partners at the California Academy of Sciences have responded to so far this year. 

The Center said whale stranding tends to increase between March and May as they travel past San Francisco Bay as they migrate north toward Alaska. 

In addition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently closed their Unusual Mortality Event that was first declared in 2019. The declaration was made when there was a whale die-off that affected hundreds of gray whales along the Pacific coast. 

"NOAA estimates the North Pacific gray whale population declined from 20,500 whales in 2019 to 14,526 whales in 2023, listing malnutrition, killer whale predation, entanglement, and vessel strike as the main causes of death," The Marine Mammal Center said in a statement. 

The Center and their partners are closely monitoring the deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds. 


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