Gray whale beached on Camano

Officials said they would perform a necropsy Saturday. The species is experiencing an “unusual mortality event.”

Officials are responding to a dead gray whale found beached on the west side of Camano Island.

On Friday, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region posted about the massive stranded mammal, saying a necropsy would be performed the next day. The agency posted photos of the animal belly-up on a rocky beach.

The whale will be left on-site for “land-based natural decomposition” so nutrients return to the ecosystem, according to a tweet.

Since 2019, gray whales along the West Coast and Alaska have been experiencing an “unusual mortality event.” Since then, more and more of the animals have been getting stranded and dying. That includes one 43-foot-long gray whale that washed ashore near Harborview Park in Everett three years ago.

According to NOAA data, there have been 259 gray whale strandings in the United States since 2019. Another 251 occured along Mexico in the same time period. So far this year, three of the four gray whale strandings in the U.S. have been in Washington.

Researchers are still trying to figure out what’s behind the deaths.