POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE (KTVU) - A dead whale washed ashore in Point Reyes on Thursday, bringing the total this year to 13 in the San Francisco Bay Area and the 14th including Mendocino County, according to marine biologists.
The Marine Mammal Center in Saulsalito tweeted that the whale was found near Limantour Beach at the Point Reyes National Seashore.
The last dead gray whale that washed up on the rocky shores of Pacifica was on May 14. Scientists haven't been able to reach that mammal to determine how it died yet, said center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli.
Biologists have been able to perform 11 necropsies, however, and of those, eight have died because of malnutrition and ship strikes, including one found May 6 on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Increased numbers of gray whales have been sighted in the San Francisco Bay as the population makes their northerly migration this spring, the center's biologists wrote on its website. Historically, one or two gray whales would temporarily pass underneath the Golden Gate Bridge during this time period. This year, experts have counted up to five entering the Bay at one time.
Why the increase isn't fully clear, Rulli said.
What biologists have noticed is that the gray whales have been in "poor body condition" during their annual migration this year, potentially due to "anomalous oceanographic conditions," such as global warming, over the past few years that have impacted their food source.