More whale carcasses found in Gulf of Alaska

  • Sunday, July 12, 2015 11:56pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — More dead whales have been found in the Gulf of Alaska following the sightings of nine fin whale carcasses in late May and early June.

Fishermen, pilots and survey crews have reported five additional dead whales over the past several weeks, including four humpbacks and one fin whale.

One theory is that the whales died from a toxin related to warmth-induced algae blooms in the Gulf of Alaska waters, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks marine mammal specialist Kate Wynne.

But scientists have tested a sample taken from the partially decomposed carcass of a dead fin whale and it did not contain the algae-produced toxin domoic acid, Wynne wrote in an email Friday. Other results are still pending.

It is the only sample that has been taken from the dead animals so far.

“We do not have conclusive evidence to link their mortality to algal blooms but continue to sample water/plankton/shellfish with a network of folks statewide,” Wynne said in her email.

“Hopefully, by monitoring current conditions and tracking/recording carcasses, we will be quicker to note and respond to a future event if it happens.”

The first dead whale was reported on Memorial Day weekend.

Wynne is working with other scientists in UAF’s Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to find an explanation for the whale deaths.

She said it’s possible that more carcasses will be reported as people continue to travel around the area.

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