SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF)– Lab officials are investigating the deaths of two gray whale carcasses that washed up this week in Santa Cruz County.
Contra Costa Times reports Long Marine Lab officials were brought in to investigate the deaths of the two whales found at separate locations, one at the northern end of the county, the other at the southern end.
A 40-foot adult gray whale was found near Waddell Beach. There was no evidence of a ship strike in his death and researchers said it had likely been dead for days.
The second 23-foot yearling found at Pajaro Dunes had killer whale teeth marks on its body and was missing its tongue and jaw. Researchers said its death was likely the result of an orca attack.
This latest instance continues the trend of whales washing ashore on Northern California’s beaches. Last week an emaciated 50-foot sperm whale washed up on Pacifica Beach. Scientists performed a necropsy, but weren’t able to confirm speculation that the whale was killed by a ship strike.
Just days ago, a killer whale beached itself north of Fort Bragg. Researchers flocked to the Mendocino coast to investigate the rare occurrence. However, they aren’t expected to come to any conclusions as to why the 25-foot creature came ashore to die.
According to the Marine Mammal Center, whale strandings are fairly rare.