The fourth dead whale to wash ashore on the Oregon Coast came up on Crescent Beach near Cannon Beach on the northern Oregon Coast.

A fourth dead whale found this month washed ashore on the Oregon Coast on Saturday, this time on Crescent Beach near Cannon Beach in Ecola State Park.

The most recent is a gray whale that has been dead for at least a month, maybe two, according to the Seaside Aquarium, which made the announcement on social media. It’s not clear what killed the whale, though “a sizable shark bite which occurred after the whale died” was observed.

It joins two whales that washed ashore last week at Fort Stevens State Park — a 40-foot sperm whale that likely died after getting hit by a ship and a 12-foot baby gray whale that died very young for unclear reasons, wildlife officials said.

The fourth whale — and the first one discovered — was a gray whale that washed ashore near Winchester Bay on Jan. 11. It was a subadult male gray whale that appeared to have been preyed upon by killer whales, according to a necropsy, said Michael Milstein with NOAA Fisheries.

The trend is not unusual per say, as Oregon averages six whale strandings per year. This month is peak gray whale migration, making this a likely time to have whales wash ashore, and three of the dead mammals have been gray whales.

“While all these whale strandings may seem concerning, there is no connection between them,” Seaside Aquarium wrote in its Facebook post. “It is purely a coincidence. When we experience weather patterns like we have in the past few weeks, coupled with strong westerly winds, dead marine mammals that have been floating offshore get pushed onto the beach.”

A dead baby gray whale washed ashore on the Oregon Coast earlier this month.

Gray whales have been struggling in recent years and have seen overall numbers decline. The gray whale population is estimated at 16,650, down 38% since 2016. 

“NOAA Fisheries in 2019 declared an Unusual Mortality Event for gray whales that migrate along the West Coast because of a sharp increase in strandings followed by a decline in the population,” Milstein said. “The population produced the fewest surviving calves on record last year since counts began in 1994.”

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