Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Gray Whales Wash Up On Skagit Shores

Two dead Gray Whales washing ashore on Skagit County beaches? That can't be good.

One was found near Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, at least I assume it was on the Whidbey Island side of Deception Pass, but it could have been on the Rosario Beach side, on Fidalgo Island.

I have seen a giant Gray Whale moving slowly, barely off the beach, at Rosario. It drew a lot of onlookers, many perplexed as to what the huge whale was doing so close to shore, worrying that it was sick. Most assumed the whale was just feeding really close to shore.

You see something like a giant Gray Whale, in the saltwater in which you've swam, and it changes how you think about getting in the water. Not that the Gray Whales have any record of hurting humans, they are fellow mammals, after all.

The other dead Gray Whale was found beached on the north shore of Samish Island. It was approximately 42 feet long. That is a lot of whale. The tidal flats of the north shore of Samish Island make for rather shallow water. I wonder where along that beach the whale died?

Necropsies will be done to the whales to try and learn what did them in. Some reports are saying the whales were unnaturally skinny. I hope they are not like parakeets in a mine, a dire warning that something has gone really badly wrong in the Puget Sound.

But, salmon runs have been doing real well. There should be plenty of whale food in the water.

There have been 4 reports of Killer Whale (Orca) attacks on Gray Whales, with one caught on video, with the attack happening on Sunday, to a Gray Whale named Patch, who has been tracked visiting the Puget Sound for 20 years.

I hope there is not something in the Puget Sound that is riling up the Killer Whales. One of my most memorable life experiences was fishing out near Lopez Island in the San Juans, with my mom and dad, and finding ourselves surrounded by a big Orca Pod, including 2 babies. This pre-dated the digital camera era. No pictures were taken. One of the Orcas came right up to the boat, as if both curious and as if to say Howdy.

I have trouble imagining an Orca being a bully to a Gray Whale. There is quite a size differential, with the advantage going to the Gray Whale by a long shot.

1 comment:

Steve A said...

Actually, the Gray Whales couldn't eat people or salmon if they wanted to. They're baleen whales that eat little stuff and often cruise along scooping stuff off the bottom. I guess they might be able to eat baby salmon, but not much more.