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2015-2016 Large Whale Unusual Mortality Event in the Western Gulf of Alaska, United States and British Columbia - CLOSED


The Unusual Mortality Event (UME) involving large whales in the Gulf of Alaska and British Columbia, Canada that began in April 2015 is over.  The event was jointly investigated by
National Marine Fisheries Service and Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and was defined as occurring from May 22, 2015, to December 31, 2015, in the Gulf of Alaska and from April 23, 2015, to April 16, 2016, in British Columbia.                       

The number of dead fin (Balaenoptera physalus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the UME totaled 46 whales, including 34 for Alaska (12 fin, 22 humpback) and 12 for British Columbia, Canada (5 fin, 7 humpback).  Based upon the findings from the investigation, a definitive cause of the UME was not determined although ecological factors were a contributory cause (i.e., the 2015 El Nino, Warm Water Blob and Pacific Coast Domoic Acid Bloom).

                          Floating fin whale in AK. Photo Credit: Briana Witteveen

  Figure 1: Location of 2015, 2016 Alaska fin whale strandings

    Figure 2: Location of 2015, 2016 British Columbia large whale strandings



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Updated: December 12, 2017