On late Monday, a dead whale around 40-feet was spotted by the authorities and the locals in Santa Cruz, West Cliff Drive. They soon identified it as a humpback whale.
The dead cetacean was not situated on the beach but a few hundred yards offshore right between the Columbia Street and Woodrow Avenue. Tuesday, a kayak was sent by the Long Marine Lab to get some details. Still it is up to the authorities to make the decision to leave the carcass there. Usually, if a dead whale is offshore, the authorities do not intervene. It is only fair to let nature take its course. Predators, especially sharks, usually feed off the carcass, therefore even dead, the whale helps the survival of others.
But the most important mission of the scientists is to find out the causes that led to the whale’s death, whether natural or because of reckless human approach to the environment. Moreover, other deaths on Santa Cruz County shores have been registered until now, the most recent being a calf which was found near the Hidden Beach in April. Photographer and boat captain Giancarlo Thomae managed to take some pictures as the carcass drifted to the Cement Ship off Seacliff State Beach.
In the end, sharks fed on the dead calf. According to Giancarlo, they are less likely to attack a living whale, but they are seen quite often feeding on a carcass. A dead whale is not only a source of meat but also an important source of fat.
Scientists are probably going to start a thorough research soon to determine what leads to these deaths. After finding the cause, they will have to find a way to stop any whale from dying and find a solution to prevent future deaths.
The authorities will also play a key role in this project as they will have to take action to inform the locals and to help the scientists. If it turns out that human ignorance is the source of all of these problems, a set of restrictions will be established by the authorities.
Still it is early to make assumptions. Everyone hopes that in the future things will get better, and dead whales will remain just a bad dream.