The carcass of a 28-foot juvenile gray whale washed up on the Sonoma Coast Friday night or Saturday morning.
The whale was discovered ashore on Portuguese Beach as the northern migration for gray whales draws a close, reports the Press Democrat.
The whale was decomposing and seemed to have been dead for some time, according to California State Parks Ranger Damien Jones.
The Marine Mammal Center took a tissue sample in an attempt to determine the cause of death, but Jones said it doesn't look like the whale was killed by trauma, like being struck by a ship.
The whale will probably remain on Portuguese Beach until the tide carries it back to sea, said Jones. "Generally we leave dead and sick animals where they are and let nature take its course,'' he said.
May marks the tail end the gray whales' annual trip from Mexico breeding and birthing lagoons to Alaska feed grounds.
Thousands of whales make the 5,000 mile journey, including newborn calves and their mothers, although some are believed to stay in a more confined area year-round. Several other whales have washed up on Northern California beaches lately.
Four gray whales have been found dead over the past five weeks. Caracasses of a humpback whale, a sperm whale and an orca whale were also discovered in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.
— The Press Democrat (@NorthBayNews) May 24, 2015