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2015-2016 Large Whale Unusual Mortality Event in the Western Gulf of Alaska

Since May 2015, elevated large whale mortalities have occurred in the Western Gulf of Alaska, encompassing the areas around Kodiak Island, Afognak Island, Chirikof Island, the Semidi Islands, and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula.  

This event has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).

Most whale carcasses have been floating and were not retrievable.  Also, the majority of carcasses were in moderate to severe decomposition with only one whale sampled to date. 

Report a stranded or floating whale

The most important step members of the public can take to assist investigators is to immediately report any sightings of live whales in distress or stranded, or dead whales. Make the report by calling the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 877-925-7773, or contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.  Do not approach or touch the whale.

Report stranded or floating whale (or any marine mammal) to the local Alaska stranding network.




2016 large whale stranding locations in the Western Gulf of Alaska through September 12, 2016

Why are whales stranding?

Currently only one whale has been able to be sampled and there no was no definitive cause of death identified for that whale at this time.  As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (Investigative Team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to review the data collected, sample future whales that strand and to determine the next steps for the investigation.


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Updated: May 24, 2016