US Gov’t: “We don’t know what’s going on” in Pacific — Many ill baby seals being abandoned; Dozens of walruses found dead; Dying whales, birds, fish — “Unprecedented things happening” — Experts: “It’s been a very unusual marine mammal year… I’m really worried, very concerned” (AUDIO)
Alaska Dispatch News, Jul 24, 2015 (emphasis added): Ailing seal pup rescued in latest discovery of distressed Alaska marine mammals … one of a string of marine mammals injured or killed in Alaska waters this year. An orphaned and injured seal pup… was one of several found this summer, federal agency officials said… The pup was lethargic and very thin — only 16.5 pounds… It was the second such case this week, NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle said Friday. An orphaned seal was picked up in Metlakatla… NOAA officials were also called out to another case in Yakutat recently, she said. “We don’t know what’s going on in the environment, but it does seem to be an unusual year,” Speegle said. Seal pups are not the only marine mammals experiencing some difficulty in waters off Alaska. NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks are conducting an investigation into the deaths of 14 whales… U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been investigating the deaths of approximately 25 walruses found in the area of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge… Carrie Goertz, a staff veterinarian at the SeaLife Center, said… she agreed that there have been some out-of-the-ordinary events with marine mammals in general. “There’s definitely been some clusters of unusual deaths,” she said.
Kate Savage, NOAA Fisheries, Jul 23, 2015: “She was one of a number of seal pups very recently reported abandoned in Southeast. It’s unusual to get pup reports this late in the summer, but it’s been a very unusual marine mammal year in many respects.”
KTVA CBS 11 News, Jul 23, 2015: Savage says this pup is one of many recently reported abandoned in Southeast Alaska.
KSRM, Jul 24, 2015: Unusual Marine Mammal Activity Puzzles Scientists… Julie Speegle with [NOAA] said their veterinarians have stated that this has been an unusual marine mammal season… “We just have seen a higher than usual number of harbor seal pups, or I should say seal pups because it hasn’t just been harbor seals.”… Another puzzling trend, the Gulf of Alaska has seen 14 fin whales die this summer.
Bruce Wright, senior scientist for the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Jul 17, 2015: “During the last 10 days I have received reports of dead and dying whales, gulls and forage fish (sand lance) from… the eastern Aleutian Islands and Adak in the western Aleutian Islands… alert me if you observe sand lance predators such as gulls, eagles, foxes, bears, whales acting sick or dead in coastal Alaska.”
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, 2014: Wales, Alaska… we are spotting dead baby Spotted and Ring Seals washing up on the beach… They looked like they have washed in after high tide last night to day before. Most appear to have been eaten by seagulls or ravens… this is the first time I have seen baby seals wash up in front of the village.
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, 2014: Bering Strait Region… This observation is posted in collaboration with Dr. Hajo Eicken and Dr. Olivia Lee with the UAF Geophysical Institute… communities [have reported] about the recent die‐off or young seals in the region…
Juneau Empire, Jul 17, 2015: … unusual happenings, worried scientists… Unprecedented things are happening in Alaska’s marine environment… “I’m really worried. I’m very concerned”… said Juneau-based marine ecologist Michelle Ridgway.
More recent reports from Alaska: AP: Unprecedented deaths along U.S. Pacific coast — Scientists: Mass die-offs of mammals, birds, fish… “No one’s sure what happened” — Gov’t wants Unusual Mortality Event declared — Samples “being tested for radionuclides from Fukushima” (PHOTOS & AUDIO)