NOAA Investigating Death of 30 Whales in AlaskaDaniel McCarthy (Author) Published Date : Aug 24, 2015 15:41 IST
Since May, 30 whales from three species have died in the Gulf of Alaska. Late last week the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that a more thorough investigation would take place into the strange deaths. The federal agency declared the deaths an unusual mortality event. Authorities said that since May, 14 humpback, 11 fin, and one gray whale along with four other unidentified marines mammals have become strands around different islands of the western section of the Gulf of Alaska.
That number of whale strandings is close to three times the average according to NOAA.
The designation of unusual mortality event allows NOAA to work with tribal, state and federal officials to conduct a thorough investigation.
The UME is considered an event involving casualties that are significant in the overall population, unexpected and demand action to be taken urgently.
The top priority currently for NOAA is the determination of the causes of death of the whales that were found beached since May along the coast of Alaska.
Just one whale of all 30 reported has had a sample taken and scientist still have not been able to determine the whale s cause of death.
Since the UME was first adopted back in 1991 as part of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, 61 cases of this type have taken place with only 29 solved.
Investigating and understanding the UMEs of marine mammals is importance as they can serve as indications of the health of the ocean and can provide insight into the larger trends in the environment, which have implications for human welfare and health, said NOAA.
The mission of the agency is to track trends and predict the changes in the Earth s environment from the ocean depths to the surface of our sun.
NOAA has requested that members of the Alaskan public are urged to assist the agency in its investigation.
NOAA Investigating Death of 30 Whales in Alaska