Gray whales continue to wash up dead and emaciated, but causes remain elusive.
One of the many mysteries of the recent death of orca whales has been how long the animals have been stuck in the water.
They have been spotted repeatedly in the water since July, many in the days leading up to the death of Tilikum, whose death has left some whale experts deeply puzzled.
The whales were spotted near the Canadian village of Bella Bella, near the U.S. border, with one dead whale seen in the ocean.
On a cold February morning, a group of Canadian and U.S. whale experts gathered at the edge of the small seaside town to begin an official investigation into the unexplained death of a killer whale.
The group included the biologist-in-residence for the Vancouver Aquarium, who is leading the investigation, and two former whale experts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, who had worked for years tracking the whales and collecting data about them.
The group’s first stop was the Bella Bella Sea Lions, where they visited with dozens of the small, family-owned local marine animal farm.
The next stop was the local government office, where NOAA representatives met with wildlife officials in an effort to collect data about the whales and learn more about what happened.
The last stop was the local police department, where they met with the mayor and city manager.
“They were very cooperative, and that allowed us to get a solid timeline of when the whales were seen up until the very last day,” said Kevin Fenton, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia who is helping lead the investigation.
The mayor and city manager said they were only too glad to help.
They said they were especially helpful because of how the whales had lived, despite the mysterious death.
“When we first saw the whales