By James Pero For Dailymail.com
Published: 23:20 BST, 11 July 2019 | Updated: 23:23 BST, 11 July 2019
Climate change may be to blame for a rash of dead whales washing up on beaches in the U.S. and abroad.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a whopping seven dead gray whales washed up on Alaskan shores over the July 4 weekend, continuing an Unusual Mortality Event declared by the agency in May.
The latest string raises the total to 22 in Alaska since the start of this year.
Gray whales have been documented washing up on shores across the U.S. and abroad leading researchers to explore the possibility of a climate change-induced die-off
Overall, the levels may eclipse a previous mortality event documented by the NOAA in 2000 when 96 gray whales were recorded. There are currently 91 American strandings in the books.
As reported by CNN, the whales, which can weigh up to 90,000 lbs and eat about 1.3 tons of food per day were found to be malnourished, leading some researchers to posit that there has been a disruption in the animals' food source.
'Scientists theorize there may have been a disruption in the gray whale food source due to a lack of sea ice in the Arctic last summer,' NOAA public affairs officer Julie Speegle told CNN.
'Gray whales fatten up during the summer by feeding on marine life, mostly amphipods off the ocean floor.
'But when sea ice melts and retreats (as it did last summer), there is a disruption in the food web that results in fewer amphipods for gray