Bay Area/ San Jose/ Parks & Nature
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Published on June 18, 2024
Second Humpback Whale Carcass of the Year Washes Ashore Near Half Moon BaySource: Doc Searls, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A dead humpback whale was discovered washed ashore at Cowell Ranch State Beach in Half Moon Bay, marking the Bay Area's second such incident this year. ABC7 News reported Monday that the whale, estimated to be 25 to 30 feet in length, was located about two miles south of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, reviving memories of a similar event when a 49-foot humpback had beached two years earlier.

While a full necropsy was not possible due to the treacherous location, the California Academy of Sciences believes the whale to be a juvenile, found after being spotted for weeks floating off the coast. Stranded on a beach that features a steep staircase at the end of a long footpath, officials were constrained to size up the situation from above, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The first dead whale of the year was seen off Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda in late April and examined at Angel Island State Park. Results from the California Academy of Sciences and the Marine Mammal Center attributed its death to blunt force trauma from a vessel strike. The Marine Mammal Center has cited ship strikes as a primary cause of whale fatalities in the region.

Despite challenges impeding a comprehensive autopsy, the circumstances hint at a worrying trend for marine life in Bay Area waters. Liz Lindqwister of the California Academy of Sciences mentioned, as per the San Francisco Chronicle, "Academy scientists and responders plan to continue monitoring this whale in the coming days," signaling ongoing concern for the local cetacean population.