Thursday, July 28, 2016

Whales continue to migrate north: for some the journey ends, Pescadero

The Daily Journal (San Mateo County), 7/27/16.  "Female humpback whale washes ashore near Pescadero."

Image result for Humpback whale, California coast picture
Just saying hello I'm here.
"A 32-foot female humpback whale washed up ashore at a beach near Pescadero in San Mateo County and scientists believe it might have been struck by a vessel, Marine Mammal Center officials said Tuesday. 

Image result for Humpback whale Bean Hollow State Beach, Pescadero
Washed ashore, possibly
by a ship.
Six scientists from the Marin Headlands-based center and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco responded Monday to Bean Hollow State Beach to perform a necropsy (same as autopsy) on the juvenile humpback whale, which is an endangered species. The scientists found massive fractures to the back of the whale’s skull, evidence of blunt force trauma consistent with a vessel collision. It also had a cut on the front right flipper that could have been from a previous entanglement, center officials said.

“Every whale stranding serves as an opportunity to learn about these majestic creatures, and how we can prevent future deaths,” Marine Mammal Center research assistant Barbie Halaska said in a statement.  Humpback whales have been sighted along the San Mateo County coast recently as they migrate north.  

Image result for Humpback whale, California coast picture
Some of you saw me in Pacifica?
Gray-whales travel north too.
Earlier this month, scientists from the two organizations responded to a 30-foot male humpback whale that also washed ashore at Bean Hollow State Beach and had injuries consistent with a ship strike. In recent years, the Marine Mammal Center responds to up to 11 whale strandings per year, according to the center. Anyone who sees sick or injured marine mammals can report it to the center by calling (415) 289-SEAL."   

Related article.  NBC News/Brendan Weber, 7/25/16, "Juvenile Humpback Whale Carcass Washes Ashore on Bay Area Beach."....  "Humpback whales have been sighted along the San Mateo County coast in recent months as they slowly move north, feeding on their migration route. The whales are among the most endangered whales in the world. Fewer than 10 percent of their original population remains. ... Nearly 1,400 humpbacks frequent the California coast in the summer and fall now. The humpback's global population is estimated to be between 35,000 and 45,000."

Reference, mammal center and education. The Marine Mammal Center/Humpback Whale, ....  "BEHAVIOR: Acrobatic humpbacks regularly breach (jump out of the water), stroke each other, and slap the water with their flippers and flukes. Scientists believe these activities are forms of communication because they create a great deal of noise, which can be heard at long distances under water. Humpbacks swim in groups or pods of up to a dozen at calving grounds, and in smaller groups of three to four during migration. Unlike other baleen whales, they can often be seen feeding cooperatively." 

Note photographs. Whale on the beach by Jae Cee from the related NBC news article. Jumping whale from Sub Sea Tours and Kayaks, Whale Watching Morrow Bay/Humpback. Up for air from Whale Route/CA Coast/ gray whale.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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