Sun'aq Tribe concerned after 30 large whales die in Gulf of Alaska

Bears can be seen feeding on the carcass of a fin whale in Larson Bay, Alaska. Photo from NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched an investigation into what is being called an "unusual mortality event" in the Gulf of Alaska.

Since May, 30 large whales -- 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale and four unidentified cetaceans -- have died in the waters. Although the cause isn't known, Sun'aq Tribe is worried that U.S. Navy training exercises might be affecting the marine life.

“At this point, the tribe is just standing by to find out what NOAA comes up with,” Tom Lance, the tribe's natural resources director, told The Washington Post. “We’re not pointing fingers at the Navy. We’re suspicious that their activities could impact marine mammals, of course, but until we have more facts we can’t say definitively that it’s one thing or another.”

The NOAA said it will work with tribal and state officials during the investigation.

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Concerns mount over whale deaths in Gulf of Alaska (The Washington Post 8/24)

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