A young gray whale washed ashore on a beach near Kalaloch some time Wednesday, and response teams from the National Oceanic and Atospheric Administration’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network are doing what they can to protect the whale from the sun and scavengers as they awaited the high tide Friday night, the highest since the whale was stranded.
“He’s alive and has been actively trying to work his way back into the water,” Michael Milstein, a NOAA spokesman said Friday afternoon. “So far he’s been unsuccessful.”
After so long out of the water, the whale’s condition is considered poor.
Milstein hoped the highest tide in the next several days will help the whale get back into the sea. That tide was predicted to peak at 10:39 p.m. Friday night at 9.19 feet as opposed to Friday morning’s high tide of just 6.79 feet.
“Crews are out there providing supportive care,” said Milstein, which includes keeping the whale as wet as they can and covering it with blankets and tarps to protect its skin from the sun and from scavengers like seagulls. Team members are hauling buckets of water to the whale around the clock. At low tide, the whale has been completely exposed for several hours at a time.
According to NOAA, the Western Pacific population of gray whales numbers about 20,000 and the number of gray whale strandings have grown with the population. From 2006 to 2016, 205 gray whales stranded on the West Coast of the United States.