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Young Gray Whale Found on Angel Island Likely Died of Malnutrition

SAUSALITO (CBS SF) -- A gray whale found washed ashore Thursday on Angel Island probably died of malnutrition, according to the Marine Mammal Center.

Eight scientists arrived at Sand Springs Beach on Angel Island Thursday to determine the cause of death of a 28-foot juvenile male gray whale that had been spotted Wednesday floating between Angel Island and Belvedere. Wednesday morning the whale was already dead.

Scientists said they discovered during the necropsy that the whale had a significant lack of muscle tissue and blubber, a sign of atrophy.

The animal had very little food in its stomach, suggesting it hadn't eaten in a while.

The whale did not appear to have suffered trauma, leading scientists to believe that the cause of death was malnutrition.

Scientists with The Marine Mammal Center collected tissue samples for the purpose of research and scientists with the California Academy of Sciences archived pelvic bones and a rib.

"Every whale stranding is an incredible opportunity to learn from these amazing animals and contribute to baseline data," Dr. Padraig Duignan, chief research pathologist at The Marine Mammal Center, said in a statement.

"This particular gray whale was likely in its first year of foraging on its own in the wild, and it's unknown whether this juvenile was following a food source into San Francisco Bay prior to its death," Duignan said.

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