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Dead gray whale washes ashore on county beach

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  • Paul Jenkin
    Someone at last night s meeting asked about navy sonar: http://green.yahoo.com/news/ap/20080205/ap_on_re_us/navy_sonar_2.html Dead gray whale washes ashore on
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2008
      Someone at last night's meeting asked about navy sonar: http://green.yahoo.com/news/ap/20080205/ap_on_re_us/navy_sonar_2.html

      Dead gray whale washes ashore on county beach

      By Zeke Barlow
      Tuesday, February 5, 2008

      Scientists are uncertain what caused the death of a gray whale that
      washed up on a Ventura County beach Sunday, saying the animal was too
      decomposed to determine the cause.

      The 45-foot, female, gray whale was likely dead for about three weeks
      before it washed onto the beach just north of Hobson County Park, said
      Michelle Berman, an assistant curator at the Santa Barbara Museum of
      Natural History.

      Thousands of gray whales, now making their annual migration from
      Alaska to Mexico, often swim through the Santa Barbara Channel and
      some die on the way, she said. This is the first dead gray whale
      spotted this year.

      "It's pretty common this time of year to have stranded animals,"
      Berman said. "Not everyone makes the migration."

      What will happen to the more than 40-ton rotting carcass is as much a
      question as how it died.

      Ron Van Dyck, deputy director of the Ventura County Parks Department,
      said his staff was going to wait until the high tides today to see if
      the whale washes out to sea.

      The mammal is currently wedged into rocks below the gated Seacliff
      community. The beach is inaccessible to earth movers or any other
      equipment that could be used to move the whale, Van Dyck said.

      Kathy Jenks, director of the Ventura County Animal Regulation
      Department, said it was unclear if the whale was on state or county

      Van Dyck said it was unlikely the county would bury the whale. It
      didn't work out last year when the county buried a blue whale, only to
      dig it up later after the tides began to erode the sand burying the

      Last year, five blue whales were found dead on Southern California
      beaches, three of which died after colliding with ships, Berman said.

      But because the recent gray whale was so decomposed, Berman and her
      colleagues only did basic tests on the animal, measuring its length
      and the width of its tail.

      Gray whales were once hunted extensively and their carcasses were used
      for everything from oil to buggy whips and corset stays. An
      international treaty stopped the hunting of the Pacific population,
      which helped the population rebound from dangerously low levels.

      Today, more than 20,000 gray whales live off the West Coast.

      During the next few months, mothers shepherding their young on the
      southbound migration will come so close to land that they can be
      spotted from beachside cliffs.

      Museum officials wanted to remind people not to bother any marine
      mammal that washes onshore.

      Anyone who sees a dead mammal should call the museum at 682-4711 ext.
      157. Live mammals should be reported to the Channel Islands Marine &
      Wildlife Institute at 567-1505.
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