In the past month, eight dead whales have washed up on beaches of the San Francisco Bay. Since 2018, 21 have washed up dead on the coast of British Columbia. This week, a rarely seen deep-sea anglerfish was found dead on Newport Beach at California’s Crystal Cove State Park. Are these signs of how much radiation from the Fukushima disaster is still in the Pacific? Is it a warning to the Pacific coast of an upcoming and disastrous earthquake or tsunami? Or is it something … worse?
“Tissue samples were taken from the three whales but scientists couldn’t perform necropsies to determine how the whales died because the carcasses were in locations that were unsafe, inaccessible or had shifting tides, the center said. Four other gray whales have been found dead in the Bay Area since early April, along with one fin whale. A pygmy sperm whale was found in February at a Sonoma County beach.”
KCRA News in Sacramento is just one of many media outlets reporting on the recent California whale deaths being investigated by The Marine Mammal Center. The latest were found in Tiburon, at the Port of Oakland and at Angel Island State Park north of San Francisco. While some of the whales were killed by ship strikes, the researchers are at a loss as to why so many are entering San Francisco Bay in the first place. Those that could be analyzed were often found to be weak and malnourished, prompting warnings to whale watchers to avoid getting close to the mammals.
Whale investigations increased in 2019 after biologists noticed an unusual number of deaths in their annual migration from Mexico to Alaska – a number large enough for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to call it an “unusual mortality event.” While the whale deaths were unusual, something more unusual washed up this week.
“State park rangers and lifeguards with Crystal Cove State Park were alerted to a weird looking fish that washed ashore Friday morning from beach visitor Ben Estes who happened to notice it on the sand. It’s been identified as a deep sea Pacific Footballfish, which is a species of anglerfish that are normally dwellings at depths more than 3,000 ft below the surface. It’s one of more than 300 living species of anglerfish from around the world. Though the fish itself is not rare, it is extremely rare to see one this intact along a beach in southern CA.”
Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching reported the find on its Facebook page, along with pictures of a large black fish shaped like a deflated football with a weird appendage that – if it were a football – would eliminate the need for a holder on field goal attempts. The Pacific footballfish (Himantolophus sagamius) an is normally found in the Kuril-Kamchatka trough in the northwest Pacific – an area that has experienced many magnitude 8 and above earthquakes – and in Japan’s Sagami Bay, another high earthquake location. Why did this Footballfish travel all the way to San Francisco Bay to die? Was it carrying a message to humans who seem to be ignoring the messages of the dead whales?
The Fukushima nuclear disaster was triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011 which resulted in the release of massive amounts of radioactive material into the air and water. The effects are still seen today … and the release of radioactive water that has been stored since 2011 may resume. Oarfish are the traditional mythical messengers of upcoming underwater doom – which may be caused by their sensitivity to vibrations and methane releases of low-level deep sea earthquakes prior to a big one. Whether you believe the myths or the science, these deaths are certainly signs of something unusual going on in the Pacific – earthquakes, pollution or possibly something science hasn’t determined yet.
Is anyone listening? Concerned Footballfish and whales would like to know.