Three times as many whales have washed up dead on the West Coast this year compared to other years, according to a biologist at the University of British Columbia.
Eleven fin whales and 18 humpbacks have been found dead in Alaska and British Columbia since May, Andrew Trites told CTV News.
Although it’s not yet certain what caused the deaths, Trites said he suspects toxic algae blooms caused by climate change.
“I think the most likely explanation for the deaths of these whales is that they were out at a big smorgasbord, a big party, and some of them got food poisoning. They ate too much, and it caused their deaths.”
Algal blooms (as seen above) result when ocean conditions are just right, and sometimes they produce toxic chemicals. The toxins are picked up by small organisms like krill, which are a food source for whales and other animals.
This year, NOAA scientists are investigating the worst algal bloom off the West Coast in more than a decade.
In other evidence of humans doing things that put both whales and themselves at risk, watch this video of a bunch of kayakers getting way too close to a pod of humpback whales off the coast of California:
You can hear the reactions of the folks on the whale-watching cruise in the background. While one woman expresses genuine distress that the kayakers who just had a whale land on their boat might be hurt or worse, others laugh and cheer and “wow” in amazement.