Grim Toll for West Coast Gray Whales

As of mid-May, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 48 gray whales had been found dead along the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Scientists who examined carcasses think the deaths are likely due to malnourishment caused by a lack of amphipods—tiny shrimp-like crustaceans the whales feed on. Amphipods are being impacted by a decrease in algae as ice retreats due to global warming in Arctic waters. Most Eastern North Pacific gray whales spend summers feeding in Alaskan and Russian waters, while a small “resident” population of Pacific Coast Feeding Group whales occupy waters off British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California during the spring, summer, and fall months. In the fall, both stocks begin their migration south to wintering and calving areas off the coast of Baja California before migrating back north in late winter and spring. 

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