Fourteen whales have washed up on Atlantic Coast beaches since Dec. 1, but marine mammal experts and some conservation groups urge caution before jumping to conclusions about why these animals and others died.
In total, at least 20 marine mammals from five species – including humpbacks, pilot whales and an orca – have been found dead on beaches from Maine to Florida since Nov. 28.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is in the midst of three separate investigations into an increase in deaths among Atlantic Coast whales.
While we only know about whales that wash up on the beach, more may be dying at sea. Here is the latest count:
- 178 humpback whales in the Atlantic since 2016, – an average of 25 deaths a year – and the investigation is ongoing, said Sarah Wilkin, a NOAA marine mammal health and stranding response program coordinator.
- 136 minke whales from Maine to South Carolina since 2017, an average of 25 a year.
- Critically endangered North Atlantic right whale deaths averaged 10 known deaths a year between 2017 and 2019 and 1.3 a year in 2020-2022.
Total deaths a year from just the three species average about 51, about four whales per month. NOAA said humpback deaths are higher in winter.