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Dead 40-foot gray whale found in San Francisco Bay off Alameda beach

A boat with three people near a large whale on calm water, with a distant ship in the backdrop.
A dead whale was discovered floating off the coast of Crown Beach in Alameda Saturday night. | Source: Courtesy KGO-TV/ABC7

A dead 40-foot female gray whale was found floating near Alameda's Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach on Saturday evening.

The California Academy of Sciences reported the whale's carcass floating offshore Saturday evening, Marine Mammal Center spokesperson Giancarlo Rulli told The Standard.

The carcass was stuck in mud or a sandbar early Sunday before dislodging and floating freely with the tide again.

Plans are underway to tow the carcass to Angel Island State Park for a necropsy to determine the cause of death, Rulli said.

The Marine Mammal Center is coordinating with local towing services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard on the tow in the coming days. Cal Academy's team was able to take initial samples and measurements from the whale Sunday.

Two people on a boat, one guiding a drone over the sea, with clear skies above.
Workers wave to a drone taking aerial photos of an entangled gray whale off the coast of San Mateo on April 9. | Source: Courtesy NOAA Fisheries

The death, which is the first reported in the San Francisco Bay Area this year, comes after a sighting earlier this month of a smaller gray whale off Thornton State Beach in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.

Gray whale deaths have been elevated since 2019, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare what it classifies as an "Unusual mortality event" that has since closed. Malnutrition, entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes are the most common causes identified by researchers.

The public should keep a safe distance and report any whale sightings, as all marine mammals are federally protected. The Mammal Center advises boaters not to approach whales.

George Kelly can be reached at