Gray whales continue to wash up dead and emaciated, but causes remain elusive.
A pod of 11 whales, including at least three young mothers, washed up on a remote island on Canada’s east coast a few weeks ago, officials said.
A local veterinarian was able to identify several of the dead whales, which appear to have died of starvation, but he couldn’t determine why, he said.
The species is not thought to have gone into decline in recent years.
One mother whale carcass recently washed up on the west coast of Canada, officials said. The creature’s size suggests it is the same species as the whale that washed up late last month.
“We don’t have any evidence of what caused it, either,” said Bruce Hales, manager of the Canadian Society for Marine Mammalogy.
Scientists are puzzled by the mysterious animals because of the absence of any signs of disease or injury, he said.
“It’s as if it simply vanished like a ghost,” Hales said.
The mystery has been amplified by the discovery of the first whale carcasses on the West Coast of Canada, a month after the animal washed up on the East Coast. The animals were the same species as those that washed up in British Columbia earlier this year, and at about the same age.
“There’s a question of timing,” Hales said.
“But these two species seem to be very closely related.”
Hales stressed that it is too soon to determine the cause of the deaths.
“We are still trying to figure out what caused it,” he said. “We are still trying to figure out what caused it.”
The whale carcasses turned up last week in two separate areas: one at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and another farther up the river.
Hales said he was told by the provincial government that the second whale died of starvation on a remote island where the whales had been resting for the past few weeks.
He said the two areas are about 45 minutes apart.
The only explanation for the presence of the animals on the East Coast, he said, is that they were washed in from the Pacific.
However, the West Coast whales look a lot like their East Coast relatives, said Hales, who has identified more than 50 different species of whales since he was a boy