NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region has an unusual request for people who own waterfront property. They want to use it for whale decomposition.
About 30 gray whales have washed up on Washington shores so far in 2019. That's the most in about 20 years. Many died due to starvation. Several have stranded in the inland waters of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea exhausting most of the known locations where they can be left to decompose naturally.
NOAA Fisheries says it's working with local and state officials looking for suitable places to let the carcasses decompose naturally, but is looking for more options. NOAA says it's already working with one local couple in Port Townsend, where a 40-foot gray whale that was towed there to decompose on their waterfront property.
Skeletons can be used for educational purposes after being registered with NOAA fisheries.
NOAA says it understands the reluctance of some homeowners to have a decomposing carcass nearby, but they have found the smell less than they expected. The stranding network is testing the use of hydrated lime to speed decomposition and mask the smell, but it’s too early to tell if it’s working.
If you'd like to volunteer, you can contact Michael Milstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (503)-231-6268.
If you'd like to read more, you can visit the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region website here.