Adults and children look over a dead gray whale washed ashore near Harborview Park on Monday, May 6, 2019 in Everett, Wash. The dead whale washed ashore Sunday. This is the 13th gray whale to wash ashore in Washington this year. (Andy Bronson/Black Press Media)

Adults and children look over a dead gray whale washed ashore near Harborview Park on Monday, May 6, 2019 in Everett, Wash. The dead whale washed ashore Sunday. This is the 13th gray whale to wash ashore in Washington this year. (Andy Bronson/Black Press Media)

Dead grey whale on Washington State beach to be towed away

The whale washed up on Sunday. Its gender, age and cause of death have not been determined

Officials planned to tow away the carcass of a whale that washed up onto a beach in Washington State this week.

Beachgoers gathered around a 43-foot-long grey whale that washed ashore on Sunday near Haborview Park in Everett.

READ MORE: Trapped humpback whale freed from salmon farm near Tofino

The Everett Police Department and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife planned to have it towed at high tide on Tuesday to Camano Island, where it will be left to decompose, said Michael Milstein, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Authorities hope to examine the whale later this week and determine its age, gender and cause of death.

Debbie Ritchhart spotted it from her living room window around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Worried the whale might still be alive and struggling to breathe, she called 911.

Elizabeth Humphrey assists Brian Ritchhart, centre, as he measures a dead grey whale washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday, May 5, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Julia-Grace Sanders/The Herald)

The next day, her husband, Brian Ritchhart, went to the beach with a measuring tape to gather the mammal’s length.

“We’ve been here 30 years and this has never happened before,” he said.

The whale was still beached on the flats Monday afternoon, allowing humans to get a better look at low tide.

This is the 13th grey whale to wash ashore in Washington this year, Milstein said. Last year at this time, there had been three or four.

But as a whole, Milstein said the grey whale population is doing very well. About 27,000 migrate along the West Coast.

Brian Ritchhart walks around a dead grey whale washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday, May 5, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Julia-Grace Sanders / The Herald)

“Overall, the population is healthy. But when you have a large population like this, it can be more sensitive to changes in the environment.”

Another dead whale was found at Cape Disappointment on Saturday, about 325 kilometres south down the coast, at the edge of the border with Oregon.

Orca Network co-founder Susan Berta said photos show this latest whale looks emaciated.

“What we’re seeing is [the dying whales] not getting enough food in the Bering Sea last summer.”

About 12 whales stop in North Puget Sound annually to feed on their way north, she said. They’re usually here from March through the end of May.

READ MORE: Dead whale discovered near BC Ferries terminal

“When there isn’t enough food up north is when we get newcomers to our little group,” Berta said. “So we’re waiting to see what happens.”

jgsanders@heraldnet.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

The Capital Regional District hopes to be a national leader in zero waste and the circular economy, but getting there will take curbing construction waste and addressing challenges brought on by the region’s growth. Pictured is the Hartland landfill. (Black Press Media file photo)
CRD aims to be zero waste national leader, reduce enough to curb landfill expansion

Capital Region will have to reduce major waste sources: construction, organics from apartments

Langford Fire Rescue (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford looks to strike out on its own for emergency fire dispatch services

Mayor Stew Young says the city is large enough to negotiate solo

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Most Read