ALASKA SEA GRANT

Hope McKenney/KUCB

Two dead whales have washed up on Unalaska's shores in the past week: an adult fin whale — which is the second largest mammal in the world — and a juvenile humpback. 

 

And while local biologists hoped to determine the cause of deaths of both whales, because of COVID-19, they likely won't be able to. 

 

Brianna McGrath

A Steller sea lion in poor health was sighted at Morris Cove in Unalaska over the weekend, prompting biologists to observe the adult male until it died early in the week. 

"It's really unusual to have sea lions hauling out on the soft sanded beaches," said Melissa Good, a marine advisory agent with Alaska Sea Grant. "We often see them hauled out on the marker buoys or on some of the rocky points where they have rookeries or haul out areas. But we very rarely see them hauled out on a beach, especially here near town."

 

 

Courtesy of Alaska SeaLife Center

Local residents are rallying to save the Alaska SeaLife Center, the state's only marine mammal rescue center and a hub for scientific research. 

The educational facility in Seward — which opened in 1998 — is in danger of closing permanently this fall if it can't raise enough money to make up for the economic loss  caused by a dramatic decline in summer visitors, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kathy Kartchner

Alaska state and local health officials are warning of dangerously high levels of toxins in shellfish, after a person died of paralytic shellfish poisoning from mussels and snails in Unalaska.

"Right now, the levels are high enough that just one mussel could kill someone," said Sarah Spelsberg, a physician assistant at Iliuliuk Family and Health Services.

Melissa Good/Alaska Sea Grant

 

 

Blue mussels and snails (whelks) collected from Unalaska Bay on July 4 registered nearly three times the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxin limit for safe consumption.

 

A recent report of some of the highest ever recorded levels of PSP toxins in butter clams taken from the Alaska Peninsula community of King Cove in June prompted officials to test locally, according to Melissa Good, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Agent in Unalaska.

 

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