Jun 1, 2019

NOAA launches investigation to find cause of death for 70 stranded gray whales

The 13th gray whale to wash up on a San Francisco Bay Area beach. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At least 70 dead gray whales have washed up on the west coast this year, according to a statement made Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, ABC reports.

Why it matters: The death toll is higher than we presently know. These stranded whales represent only 10% of how many have actually died, per research biologist John Calambokidis. NOAA has launched a scientific investigation into the cause of the deaths, describing it as an "unusual mortality event."

Catch up quick:

  • 37 whales have beached in California, with more than 12 concentrated on the San Francisco Bay. Other locations include Oregon, Alaska and Washington.
  • Gray whale death rates this high have only been seen once, in 2000 — with the most stranded whales found in Alaska (45) and California (61).
  • There is a chance the gray whale population can rebound, if environmental and food availability conditions are right.

What they're saying: “It is very unusual. A normal year for us, we have maybe between one and three [dead] gray whales in this season. This is triple that already, in less than a two-month period," Chief research pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center Pádraig Duignan told the Washington Post, on stranded whales in California's Bay area.

The bottom line: Researchers are trying to determine if the cause of death is related to warming temperatures in the Arctic, other environmental factors, disease or human activities like ship strikes.

Go deeper: Climate change could make it harder for blue whales to find food

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The European Union is considering an $826 billion coronavirus rescue package to fund recovery efforts for all member states, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

By the numbers: More than 5.6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 355,500 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 15.1 million tests).

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 5,682,389 — Total deaths: 354,944 — Total recoveries — 2,337,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,697,459 — Total deaths: 100,276 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  8. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy