Larger Numbers of Dead Whales Washing Up on Atlantic Beaches

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Courtesy of MorgueFile user matthew_hull.

A humpback whale breaching.

Gabrielle Gautier, Staff Reporter

Along the Atlantic coast of the United States, large numbers of humpback whales have been washing up on the beach, dead. Between Maine to North Carolina, 41 whales have beached on Atlantic beaches in 15 months. Since the start of 2017, 15 other whales have been found dead, as well.

Marine biologists are calling this event an “unusual mortality rate.” Veterinary medical officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, Deborah Fauquier, told New York times that they have not identified the cause of death for all of the whales. She did state, however, that many of them have evidence of blunt force trauma, most likely coming from large ship propellers, resulting in at least ten of the deaths.

Humpback whales are among the largest mammals in the world, growing up to 40 feet on average and can live up to 100 years old. These whales aren’t be threatened by extinction like some other whales, but sudden casualties in such high numbers is a cause for concern to scientists.

The humpback diet consists of small fish and krill, which they follow on a yearly migration towards the warmer waters of the Southern Hemisphere to mate and breed.

These giants of the sea are also known for their love of breaching, jumping almost all the way out of the water for what appears to be no important reason other than the joy of it.

In recent years humpbacks were a target to whalers, particularly in the Pacific, but since then many countries have placed a ban on whale hunting, as it did create danger of extinction.

These whales follow the same migration route every year, leading some scientists on this incident to believe that large ships are going through the humpback’s route and that’s what is causing these propeller scars.

Live whales in the Atlantic have been tested for various diseases that may be killing them off. However the NOAA confirmed that there are no deadly diseases linked to the recent mass die-offs.

Unusual mortality rates are, as the name suggests, an unusual event. However these types of scenarios happen, many environmentalists and animal lovers hope things will return to normal before too many whales are lost.