Michael Major, of Stanwood, takes a photo on Monday with a 43-foot dead gray whale that washed ashore Sunday near Harborview Park in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Michael Major, of Stanwood, takes a photo on Monday with a 43-foot dead gray whale that washed ashore Sunday near Harborview Park in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Dead whale on Everett beach to be towed to Camano Island

The gray whale washed up Sunday. Its gender, age and cause of death have not been determined.

EVERETT — Beachgoers gathered around a 43-foot-long gray whale Monday, examining the barnacles on its back and the scars in its rubbery skin.

The creature washed ashore Sunday near Harborview Park.

The Everett Police Department and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife are planning to have the carcass towed at high tide on Tuesday to Camano Island, where it will be left to decompose, said Michael Milstein, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He did not know the exact destination on Camano.

Authorities hope to examine the whale later this week and determine its age, gender and cause of death, Milstein said.

Nearby resident Debbie Ritchhart spotted it from her living room window off Madrona Avenue around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Worried the whale might still be alive and struggling to breathe, she called 911.

Monday, her husband Brian Ritchhart headed down to the beach with a measuring tape to gather the mammal’s length.

“We’ve been here 30 years and this has never happened before,” he said.

Elizabeth Humphrey assists Brian Ritchhart (third from right) as he measures a dead gray whale on Monday that washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday in Everett. It was the 13th gray whale to wash ashore in Washington this year. (Julia-Grace Sanders / The Herald)

Elizabeth Humphrey assists Brian Ritchhart (third from right) as he measures a dead gray whale on Monday that washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday in Everett. It was the 13th gray whale to wash ashore in Washington this year. (Julia-Grace Sanders / The Herald)

The whale was still beached on the flats Monday afternoon, allowing humans to get a better look at low tide. The only way to access the beach near the whale without trespassing on railroad property is through Howarth Park.

Robert Sennabaum was walking his dog Rex when he came across the carcass.

“I feel like global warming might have something to do with this,” he said.

Adults and children on Monday look over a dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Adults and children on Monday look over a dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

This is the 13th gray whale to wash ashore in Washington this year, Milstein said. Last year at this time there had been three or four.

But as a whole, Milstein said the gray whale population is doing very well. There are about 27,000 that migrate along the West Coast.

“Overall the population is healthy,” he said. “But when you have a large population like this, it can be more sensitive to changes in the environment.”

Another dead whale was found at Cape Disappointment Saturday, Milstein said.

A number of recently washed-up whales have appeared skinny and malnourished, he said.

Brian Ritchhart on Monday walks around a dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday in Everett. (Julia-Grace Sanders / The Herald)

Brian Ritchhart on Monday walks around a dead gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park on Sunday in Everett. (Julia-Grace Sanders / The Herald)

An examination has not yet been performed on the whale found in Everett, but Orca Network co-founder Susan Berta said photos show it looks emaciated.

“So what we’re seeing is (the dying whales) not getting enough food in the Bering Sea last summer,” she said.

About 12 whales stop in North Puget Sound annually to feed on their way north, Berta said. They’re usually here from March through the end of May.

“When there isn’t enough food up north is when we get newcomers to our little group,” Berta said. “So we’re waiting to see what happens.”

Port Gardner and Possession Sound commonly are hosts to gray whales and orcas, and occasionally humpbacks.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

More in News & Comment

Ashley Hiruko/illustration
Susan’s quest for ‘justice’ and the civil legal system dilemma

While citizens have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, they’re not afforded the same rights in civil litigation.

Upon further review, EPA wants to redo water quality rules

Feds say they’ll use what the state submitted in 2016 even though they’re no longer the state’s faves.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Oh, crab! There’s something fishy about this place

That mysterious eyesore by the sea will be replaced by a new research center. “It’s all going to go.”

With ‘Game of Thrones’ ending, it’s time for a proper feast

How to make a meal inspired by the Lannisters’ and Starks’ world, fit for the King in the North.

Edmonds looks to transform a prime piece of waterfront

After the Senior Center breaks ground on a new building, the city could complete a beach walkway.

Running wild: Healed from injuries, a bear roams free again

She suffered pelvic fractures in December. Wildlife officers released her in the Cascades this week.

Most Read