A 40-foot gray whale, last seen alive on July 3, was found dead Saturday in Budd Inlet, according to Cascadia Research, a nonprofit that works with marine mammals.
After the whale was found dead near West Bay Marina, it was towed to an undisclosed beach and examined Sunday afternoon, said Jessie Huggins, a stranding coordinator with the nonprofit. Officials with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and Gig Harbor-based World Vets also were involved in examining the whale, she said.
The whale was an adult male. It showed no signs of a ship strike or entanglement, but it was extremely emaciated due to malnutrition.
Cascadia Research had been monitoring the whale. It previously was seen in South Sound waters near Allyn and Grapeview. Huggins said its death was not totally unexpected given its condition.
“It’s better for the whale (to have died) because it’s no longer suffering,” she said.
More than 30 gray whales have died this year in Washington state, but the state is not alone, Huggins said. An unusually large number of gray whale deaths have been reported from Mexico to Alaska.
Gray whales feed in Alaska before they migrate south. Their deaths might be attributed to a lack of food, an overabundance of whales, or a combination of both, she said.