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2007 Blue Whale Strandings

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  Blue Whale Stranding History in SB County


In September 2007, three dead Blue Whale stranded off the Southern California Coast due to ship strikes. It was reported the week of September 9, 2007 that there about 100 Blue Whales in the Santa Barbara Channel and that their primary food source (krill) was prevalent in the shipping lanes.

  • September 8, 2007: Subadult male in Long Beach Harbor
  • September 14, 2007: Subadult female in Ventura County, Hobson County Beach
  • September 21, 2007: Subadult male in Ventura County, Platform Gail/Platform Grace

The Museum began collecting stranding data in 1975, and the first Blue Whale stranding recorded was in 1980. Since then, there have been seven Blue Whale strandings in the Tri-County area (Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo); so having three Blue Whales strand one week apart is unusual and raises the question “Why?” Until final results of the necropsies were received, the initial working theory was that domoic acid may have been a contributing factor to the whales’ deaths.

August 7, 1980 71-foot male Blue Whale stranded about 0.5 mi S of Honda Point, VAFB. This is the Blue Whale skeleton currently on exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
August 17, 1988
 
On Oceano Dunes (85 feet female)
August 17, 1992 0.5 miles W. of Government Point near Point Conception
August 2, 1993
 
West end of San Nicolas Island (80 feet female)
January 12, 1994 Near the mouth of Green Canyon on Santa Rosa Island  (61 feet)
August 11, 1996 On Siminton Cove, San Miguel Island (73.5 feet male)

Domoic acid is a toxin associated with certain algal blooms. In April 2007 NOAA Fisheries (the federal agency responsible for the conservation and management of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions) designated an official “Unusual Mortality Event (UME).” The designation means that scientists have determined that the occurrences/deaths (beginning in April 2007) are significantly more numerous than is customary in the region and therefore a more comprehensive investigation is warranted.

 

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