Return to Strawberry Point and Our Gray Whale

Where does a dead whale go? After death, if the carcass ends up on a beach, it plays an important role in its surrounding terrestrial ecosystem.

Strawberry Point

For those of you who may have missed my previous article, A Sad Gray Whale of A Tale, last June while conducting our survey for the COASST program we came upon the carcass of a decomposing Gray Whale just south of our survey beach near Strawberry Point.

For our July survey, we were anxious to go back and check on the state of the carcass. Surprisingly, or at least to me, almost all of the soft tissue was gone. The remaining bones were scattered over a wide area as well. I’m assuming that was due to scavenging.

From everything I’ve read, it seems awfully accelerated. Does anyone have any experience with this? I’d love to hear your comments below.

Decomposition

Where does a dead whale go? A dead cetacean may end up on a shoreline or beach or may float in the ocean for a period of time before sinking to the seafloor. After death, if the carcass ends up on a beach, it plays an important role in its surrounding terrestrial ecosystem, often immediately becoming prey to a number of scavengers and omnivorous species, including seabirds, wolves and bears.

Decomposition begins almost immediately after death and there are several processes that begin to break down various parts of a cetacean’s body. Autolysis (the process in which cells or tissues are broken down by naturally occurring enzymes), bacterial decomposition, putrification (the process of breaking down proteins and is responsible for organ liquefaction), and fermentation all occur and all produce noxious gases such as CO2, methane, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia.

I have to admit that given all of this information I still am surprised at how quickly our Strawberry Point Gray Whale decomposed.  

Where does a dead whale go? After death, if the carcass ends up on a beach, it plays an important role in its surrounding terrestrial ecosystem.

Where does a dead whale go? After death, if the carcass ends up on a beach, it plays an important role in its surrounding terrestrial ecosystem.

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

advertisement

Latest Instagram

Will be heading back to the land of the Midnight Sun in 24 hours to help support a team of Alaska Volcano Observatory scientist in the field. Here's a close up Iliamna and one of her glaciers.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #Alaska #alaskanmalamute #alaskan #alaskalife #alaskanhusky #alaskankleekai #AlaskaAirlines #alaskanmalamutesofinstagram #alaskaki #alaskathunderfuck #alaskanadventures #alaskagrown #alaskanmalamutes #alaskabarbershop #alaskamalamute #alaskaair #alaskahusky #alaskalove #alaskaphotographer #alaskanmalamutepuppy #alaskacruise #alaskaday #alaskahighway #alaskanmalamuteindonesia #alaskanmalamuteofinstagram #alaskascenery #alaska5000 #alaskasummer #alaskatlf #alaskarange ...

0 10

Looking forward to getting back out to the Olympic Peninsula this fall for the change of colors and cool fresh air! ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

0 7

The Saw-tooth Ridge in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Days like this are just magical.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 1

Here's a closeup of the High Rock Lookout. Built in 1930 this lookout sits above a 600' straight drop to the floor below. It's been closed for years, but can still be used as a shelter to hikers in the area.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 4

Looking down 2000' into the valley and Cora Lake from atop High Rock just below the lookout. We had incredible weather for this shot. Things rarely work out so perfectly. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 2

Made the hike up to High Rock Lookout. Incredible views all around including straight down! Mt. Rainier in the background. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #getlost #discoverearth #optoutside #igtravel #instapassport #exploretocreate #earthofficial #instatraveling #travelphoto #ourplanetdaily #travelworld #mytravelgram #theglobewanderer #natgeo #keepexploring #explorer #places_wow #globe_travel #agameoftones #roamtheplanet #nakedplanet #earthfocus #worldtravelpics #sharetravelpics #keepitwild #landscapes #landscapephotography #createexplore #travelingram #ig_masterpiece ...

0 2

We found the perfect Hipcamp situated between Mt. Rainier National Park and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Three days of bliss! #explore #pnw #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #nature #pacificnorthwest #optoutside #adventure #wanderlust #getoutside #northwestisbest ...

0 1

Here's the latest on our website | "Three Children Go Missing Near Carbonado" https://buff.ly/32T33zJ ...

0 0

This was some time back, but taking a break with @kayakthecoast on Lummi Rocks during a paddle of the San Juan Islands.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #seattle #upperleftusa #pnwonderland #wine #sommelier #bellevue #ocean #edmonds #bellingham #pnw #travel #washingtonstate #pacificnorthwest #orcasisland #rocheharbor #explore #fridayharbor #nature #tacoma #wildernessculture #sanjuanislands #anacortes #visitsanjuans #sanjuanisland #northwest #sunset #washington #orcas #eastsound #rosario ...

0 10

After our beach survey for #COASST we had lunch sitting in the shade of a massive root ball. Doe and her fawn come strolling around the corner to joins us. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnw #washington #washingtonstate #pacificnorthwest #pnwonderland #nature #optoutside #washingtonexplored #science #upperleftusa #olympicpeninsula #beach #cascadiaexplored #wildlife #explorewashington #conservation #pnwlife #washingtonweed #wacoast #washingtonstatefair #naturephotography #washingtonnationals #washingtontrails #wander #hiking #olympicnationalpark @washingtondiscovered #WildOlympics @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 4

Heading back out to the Olympic National Park this weekend to conduct our July #COASST beach survey. Weather looks promising and I'll be curious to check on the condition of our Gray Whale. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnw #washington #washingtonstate #pacificnorthwest #pnwonderland #nature #optoutside #washingtonexplored #science #upperleftusa #olympicpeninsula #beach #cascadiaexplored #wildlife #explorewashington #conservation #pnwlife #washingtonweed #wacoast #washingtonstatefair #naturephotography #washingtonnationals #washingtontrails #wander #hiking #olympicnationalpark @washingtondiscovered #WildOlympics @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 0

Here's my latest news article regarding the world of citizen-science | "A Sad Gray Whale of a Tail" https://buff.ly/2LrCP1P ...

0 18

A crumbling wall of what once was a thriving coal community named Melmont deep in the Carbon River Canyon. Only a handful of structures are visible now.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 2

Making our way up the Carbon River banks toward the Melton Ghost Town. We had such good weather for exploring this area. We'll defiantly be back from more discoveries. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 0

Yesterday our plans for hiking out on the Melton Ghost Trail were interrupted when we helped a family search for 3 missing children from their party. Located the kids but had to scrub the hike. We’ll try again. .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 2

Camping on the banks of the Carbon River this weekend. Tonight we’re off to find the ghost town of Melmont. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

0 6

Gases accumulate in the body cavity of a deceased cetacean causing, in some cases, extreme bloating. An estimated 3-5 atmospheres of pressure can build inside the whale, equivalent to the pressure experienced diving 40 meters underwater. Eventually, these gases find a means of escaping the body through weak points in the connective tissue, skin, and blubber.

This process can occur rapidly, resulting in an explosive event, where gases and organs may be propelled several meters from a whale upon release, or slowly if several points of escape are present. Once the bloating has ceased, decomposition will continue to occur until all tissue has been broken down and only the skeleton remains.

Please share this:

More to explore

setting_traps
Science

A Summer Hunting the Green Crab

This was only our second year for this site, and actually our first full year. Last year we had a late start as we waited for the permits to make their way through the system. I mention this because it makes is somewhat difficult to come up with any hard conclusions regarding the data.

Read More »
la-push-sunset
Science

Third Survey at Toleak Beach

Bending down for a better look I saw yet another bit of cougar scat. It wasn’t fresh but that didn’t keep my head from constantly swiveling as I started up the trail to Scott’s Bluff.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

×
×

Cart