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Second Deceased Whale Washes Up in Same N. Oregon Coast Spot

Published 01/19/23 at 6:30 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Second Deceased Whale Washes Up in Same N. Oregon Coast Spot

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(Warrenton, Oregon) – [NOTE: FOR UPDATES ON CAUSE OF DEATH SEE Three Whales Hit Oregon Coast Sands: Causes of Death Released] Talk about astronomical. What are the chances? One in a thousand? (Photo Seaside Aquarium)

Whatever the odds, it happened on the north Oregon coast early Wednesday when a second deceased whale washed up around Fort Stevens, not far from the first one that stranded last week.

That initial one was a 40-foot sperm whale that scientists later discovered had been killed by a ship strike. The new find was a baby gray whale about 100 yards away.

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium has attended to both in the aquarium's role as part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The large sperm whale - determined to be about 20 years old - caused a media sensation, with numerous news outlets heading out to the beach to film, photograph or document the necropsy and other people's reactions.

Photo courtesy Rachel Sip

A consequence of all that coverage was even more people heading over to check it out, including one school bus full of Portland-area kids making the journey as a field trip. This perfect learning opportunity led to a major surprise, with Portland school administrator Rachel Sip contacting Oregon Coast Beach Connection early Wednesday afternoon.

She said state park rangers were already there trying to figure things out, and even then there was chatter this was a gray whale.

That was later confirmed by Boothe, who said the gray whale calf was about 12 feet long.

“Like the sperm whale, it had been dead for a while before washing ashore,” she said. “There are no indications that this whale was struck by a ship or died from human interaction. Most likely this is a case of failure to thrive.”

Photo Seaside Aquarium

A necropsy is still coming, and then science and marine life experts will know for certain. You can see from the photos there are no external wounds visible, which probably means it was a disease or some food source issue.

“Gray whales are currently migrating south to their birthing and breeding grounds near Baja,” Boothe said.

Just like that smelly, initial creature, this baby whale was definitely starting to rot.

“Depending on where you were standing with the wind it was fine or horrible,” Sip told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “It was a bit of a drive, but worth it for the learning opportunities for our students.”

See more on Oregon Coast Whales

So how rare is this sort of coincidence? Is the second whale connected to the first somehow?

It's a pretty rare happening but definitely just a coincidence, and no, this is not connecting the two in any way. There's no mass die-off out there, though the conspiracy nuts are going to have a field day with this one no matter what.

Boothe said it is a major surprise to her as well.

“When the winds blow out of the west, we often see animals that have been floating out at sea wash up on the beach,” she said. “Depending on the winds and currents it is not unusual for multiple animals to wind up washing ashore in the same place.”

Indeed, around the whale itself you can see a whole lot of tiny ocean debris. Recent wild waves have deposited much on the Oregon coast lately. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photo courtesy Rachel Sip

Photo Seaside Aquarium

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Coastal Spotlight

Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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