At least nine fin whales have been found dead in recent weeks in southern Alaska waters, and researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and University of Alaska Fairbanks are attempting to find out what killed them.
(From Alaska Dispatch News / by Yereth Rosen) — “We rarely see more than one fin whale carcass every couple of years,” said Kate Wynne, a UAF professor and Alaska Sea Grant marine mammal specialist, and the recent rash of dead whale discoveries is “mysterious.”
According to a release from UAF, the first of the whales was reportedly spotted on May 23 by crew members aboard the state ferry Kennicott, which travels between Bellingham, Washington, and ports in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.
Over the next two weeks, boaters, fishermen and pilots reported other dead whales in the floating in the area, the UAF release said. Those reports, and the photos submitted with them, led Wynne and her NOAA colleagues to conclude that “at least nine fin whales died in a relatively small area,” the release said.
For now, the “go-to answer” to questions about the deaths is a harmful algal bloom, said Bree Witteveen, a UAF Sea Grant marine mammal specialist working with Wynne on the investigation.
Read the full article here: http://www.adn.com/article/20150618/9-endangered-whales-found-dead-alaska-waters-recent-weeks