The Associated Press

PORT HADLOCK, Wash. — At least one Washington state waterfront landowner has said yes to a request to allow dead gray whales to decompose on their property.

So many gray whale carcasses have washed up this year — another was found Friday stranded south of Sunset Beach in Oregon — that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries says it has run out of places to take them.

In response, the agency has asked landowners to volunteer property as a disposal site for the carcasses. By doing so, landowners can support the natural process of the marine environment, and skeletons left behind can be used for educational purposes, officials said.

But the carcasses can be up to 40 feet long. That’s a lot to decay, and it could take months. Landowner Mario Rivera, of Port Hadlock, Washington, said the smell is intermittent and “isn’t that bad.”

“It is really a unique opportunity to have this here on the beach and monitor it and see how fast it goes,” said his wife, Stefanie Worwag.

NOAA Fisheries said about 30 whales have stranded on Washington’s coast this year, the most in two decades.

On the West Coast, about 70 whales have been found dead this year along California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, the most since 2000. About five were found on British Columbia beaches. Still, that’s a small fraction of the total number because most sink or wash up in remote areas and are unrecorded.

NOAA Fisheries late last month declared the die-off an “unusual mortality event,” and provided additional resources to respond to the deaths.

“With the unusual mortality event of these gray whales, we know more whales will be coming in, or there is a high likelihood that more whales will die within Puget Sound and out on the coast,” said Port Townsend Marine Science Center citizen science coordinator Betsy Carlson.

South of Sunset Beach, a 23-foot female gray whale was found Friday, the Seaside Aquarium said Sunday. Biologists at the aquarium performed a necropsy on the whale, but “nothing too telling was found,” the aquarium said in a Facebook post.

Many gray whales beached this year have been malnourished and even emaciated, according to Seaside Aquarium.

“That suggests that some whales may be exhausting their energy reserves this year before they reach the Arctic to resume feeding, researching say,” according to the aquarium’s Facebook post.

Officials say the gray whale population remains strong at about 27,000.

Lime is being used to help break down the whale carcass on the beach near where Rivera and Worwag live.

“The lime appears to be working,” Rivera said. “It is decomposing nicely. I think.”

— The Oregonian contributed to this report.

23454667