Biologists found ghost shrimp in one of the female whale’s stomachs when they performed a necropsy on Camano Island. They determined the whale that washed ashore in Everett in May was skinny and undernourished. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Biologists found ghost shrimp in one of the female whale’s stomachs when they performed a necropsy on Camano Island. They determined the whale that washed ashore in Everett in May was skinny and undernourished. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Everett’s dead gray whale was skinny and undernourished

So far this year, 28 gray whales have died on Washington beaches. This time last year, there were 10.

CAMANO ISLAND — An examination has revealed more about the dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett in early May.

A necropsy confirmed the whale, a female, died of starvation. Biologists found ghost shrimp in one of her stomachs, but she was skinny and undernourished.

The carcass had been towed from Harborview Park to a Department of Natural Resources beach on the southeast side of Camano Island.

That area was chosen because of its proximity to Everett and because the carcass can decompose there without affecting neighbors, said Michael Milstein, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A state Department of Fish and Wildlife video details how biologists performed the examination.

First, they took photos and measurements of the carcass. This whale was just under 42 feet. Typically, adult gray whales measure between 42 and 49 feet and can weigh 90,000 pounds, according NOAA.

Next, they examined the outside to find scars from a past orca attack.

Sections of the whale’s baleen, the filter-feeder system in its mouth, were sent to a lab for hormone analysis. Scientists aren’t sure of its age yet.

The last step involved opening the whale. Biologists cut through a layer of blubber that can be up to 8 inches thick to take samples of the whale’s uterus, kidneys, intestines and stomach contents.

The carcass will be left on the beach to naturally decompose, Fish and Wildlife communications manager Sam Montgomery said. That can take anywhere from one to two months.

The whale is one of many to recently wash ashore in Washington skinny and undernourished.

So far this year, 28 gray whales have died on Washington beaches, Milstein said. This time last year, there were 10.

An examination revealed the dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett in early May died of starvation. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

An examination revealed the dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett in early May died of starvation. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

But as a whole, Milstein said the gray whale population is doing very well.

“Overall the population is healthy,” he said previously. “But when you have a large population like this, it can be more sensitive to changes in the environment.”

There are about 27,000 gray whales that migrate along the West Coast between Mexico and the Arctic.

“So what we’re seeing is (the dying whales) not getting enough food in the Bering Sea last summer,” Orca Network co-founder Susan Berta said previously.

Port Gardner and Possession Sound commonly are hosts to gray whales and orcas, and occasionally humpbacks.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - This Monday, June 17, 2019, file photo shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone. While the nation's attorneys general debate a legal settlement with Purdue Pharma, the opioid epidemic associated with the company's blockbuster painkiller OxyContin rages on. The drugs still kill tens of thousands of people each year with no end in sight. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
5 wrinkles for lawmakers to iron out in session’s last days

Here’s what’s happening on Day 92 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

Lakewood High School. (Lakewood School District)
Voters asked again to support Lakewood students with a levy

The school district seeks passage of a measure with a lower tax rate than those which voters rejected in 2020.

Marysville police investigating gunshots that injured man

The Marysville man, 62, suffered a wound to his left knee and was treated at a hospital.

Police: Man shot in head outside Arlington dialysis clinic

He was dead at the scene. No suspects have been arrested. Police are asking for help.

Man died in Mill Creek crash, police investigating cause

It was described as a “near head-on collision.” Another person was also transported to a hospital.

With the sun shining and trees blooming, Guy Bernstein and Heidi Easterling enjoy lunch in a convertible Volkswagen Beetle at Grand Avenue Park on Monday, April 12, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Springtime sun is finally here, and it’s going to get warmer

There is no rain in the forecast until Monday, and the weekend is expected to be downright balmy.

Inslee to announce possible new COVID restrictions Monday

At a news conference Thursday the governor said “we’ve let our guard down to some degree.”

Most Read