SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The carcass of a gray whale was discovered washed ashore Monday on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach — the ninth such discovery on Bay Area beaches this year.

Scientists at The Marine Mammal Center said experts were planning a necropsy, or animal autopsy, on Tuesday to try to determine the cause of death.

“The death of nine gray whales in the San Francisco Bay Area this year is a cause for serious concern and reinforces the need to continue to perform and share the results of these type of investigations with key decision-makers,” said Dr. Padraig Duignan, Chief Research Pathologist at The Marine Mammal Center. “We are committed to partnering with organizations and individuals to find long-term environmental solutions to prevent these deaths in the future.”

Biologists have observed gray whales in poor body condition during their annual migration this year potentially due to anomalous oceanographic conditions over the past few years that have contributed to shifting food sources.

Increased numbers of gray whales have also been sighted in the San Francisco Bay as the population continues their northerly migration.

The Center has completed necropsies on eight gray whales so far in 2019. Three whales died due to ship strikes, and four were due to malnutrition. The cause of death for the eighth whale has not yet been determined.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA – 2019 GRAY WHALE NECROPSY RESULTS:

  • March 10, 2019: San Francisco Bay; Cause of death: malnutrition
  • March 11, 2019: San Francisco Bay; Cause of death: malnutrition
  • April 02, 2019: Rodeo; Cause of death: malnutrition
  • April 10, 2019: San Mateo; Cause of death: ship strike
  • April 13, 2019: Richmond; Cause of death: suspected ship strike
  • April 13, 2019: Hercules; Cause of death: malnutrition
  • April 16, 2019: Pacifica; Cause of death: ship strike
  • April 30, 2019: Point Reyes National Seashore; Cause of death: to be determined
  • May 6, 2019: San Francisco (Ocean Beach); Case of death: to be determined
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