Speed Reads

mysteries

Dozens of whales are washing up dead on Alaska's shores, confounding scientists

Scientists in Alaska are trying to get to the bottom of why so many whales are being found dead along the state's coast.

Since May, 30 dead whales — 11 fin whales, 14 humpbacks, one gray whale, and four unidentified cetaceans — have been discovered, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an "unusual mortality event" on Thursday, The Huffington Post reports. Last year, just five dead whales were spotted on the coast. "While we do not yet know the cause of these strandings, our investigations will give us important information on the health of whales and the ecosystems where they live," NOAA's Dr. Teri Rowles said in a statement.

Because the coastline of Alaska is so vast, scientists have only been able to get to one of the whale carcasses. It's possible the deaths are being caused by toxic algae bloom, NOAA said, but it's "highly unlikely" the strandings are due to radiation from Fukushima. The scientists say it could take years to figure out what's going on, and are asking the public to call them if they see a dead whale or a living whale in distress.