Gray whales in the North Pacific are divided into two genetically-distinct populations (or stocks) known as the Eastern North Pacific and Western North Pacific stocks. Gray whales face a number of known or potential threats, such as entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, ship strikes, human-generated marine sound, and climate change.
Once common throughout the Northern Hemisphere, gray whales are now only regularly found in the North Pacific Ocean where there are two extant populations, one in the eastern and one in the western North Pacific.
Since January 1, 2019, elevated gray whale strandings have occurred along the west coast of North America from Mexico through Alaska. This event has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).
On Union Wharf, along the waterfront of Port Townsend, WA, you will find a fully articulated, 42-foot male gray whale skeleton on display. He died, emaciated, at the start of a gray whale Unusual Mortality Event, declared in 2019. Locals call him Gunther.