The Coast Guard on Tuesday towed what is believed to be a dead baby gray whale to shore after the corpse was spotted floating between in the Bay between Fort Mason and Alcatraz.
A necropsy will be conducted on the calf to determine why it died.
The deceased whale was spotted by a patrolling Police Department Marine Unit boat around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Officer Albie Esparza.
The whale, which was about 25 feet long, was floating belly-up in the Bay and seagulls were sitting on it, attempting to peck into the corpse for food, Esparza said. The discovery occurred two days after people reported seeing a whale near Angel Island, but officials who responded to the call were not able to find the whale, he said.
The baleen gray whales have completed their calving season off the coast of Mexico, and are currently migrating northward with their calves. Gray whales have occasionally strayed under the Golden Gate and into the Bay in the past, Esparza said.
After spotting the whale, the police contacted the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and the Coast Guard, which sent a boat to the whale. A scientist from the center was taxied to the spot to determine whether the corpse was in good enough shape to tow to land for a necropsy, according to Coast Guard Lt. Andrew Kennedy and other officials. As of Tuesday night, the whale was being towed alongside Coast Guard Cutter Pike toward the East Bay, he said.
Marine Mammal Center spokesman Jim Oswald said that if the whale had proved to be too decomposed, they would have left it where it was.
He said two common causes of death for whales are being struck by ships and being tangled up in nets or other human detritus in the ocean.