Gray whale carcass found on Kelly Beach


Mike Baird

The most recent whale carcass washed ashore on May 19.

Mia Hogan, Staff Writer

Third time’s the charm. Not really.

On Tuesday, marking the third time within 30 days, San Mateo County found yet another dead whale washed ashore.

Senior Natalie Tussy said, “Finding a dead whale washed ashore [could be] a mere coincidence. However, if it is the third whale found within a month, it is a sign that something is definitely wrong.”

Found around Kelly Beach, located in Half Moon Bay, researchers from the California Academy of Sciences classified the 40-foot long carcass as an adult gray whale.

The whale’s carcass was badly decomposed by the time it reached the shore, hinting that the incident that killed the whale had occurred a while ago.

California Academy of Sciences researchers are working to determine the whale’s cause of death. Due to the carcass’ decomposition, scientists plan to look into the whale’s bone structure, searching for any signs of trauma.

Marine Mammal Center spokeswoman Laura Sherr predicted that the California Academy of Sciences would partner with the Marin Headlands-based Marine Mammal Center to speed up the investigation.

“It is extremely important to find the cause of the gray whale’s death. Because multiple deaths have occurred this month, it needs to be taken into consideration that the death [could have been] natural or human caused. If the whale was killed by a human, the state needs to look into monitoring the water to ensure protection for these endangered species,” said junior Claire Grundig.

Before the Half Moon Bay incident, Pacifica had found two other whale carcasses.

On April 14, a 48-foot sperm whale was found, and on May 5, a 42-foot humpback whale. Both carcasses were adults and were found near Mori Point, Pacifica.

California Academy of Sciences researchers were unable to identify the cause of the death for both whales. The blunt force trauma found on the humpback’s bone structure hints to researchers that the whale was hit by a ship, but this theory has not been proven true.

All three of the whales killed in the past month happen to be endangered species and are protected by the federal government under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Junior Abbey Holbrook said, “The fairly recent death of all three of these whales just further illustrates the dangers our wildlife faces due to human interaction among their habitats and the importance of protecting these species.”