Is This the Third Bad Year for North Pacific Gray Whales?

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Nearly 400 Gray Whales Have Died Off the West Coast Since 2019

by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

Reports of emaciated gray whales have started to come in as the whales arrive at their breeding grounds off of Baja California, Mexico. If the trend continues this will be the third hard year in a row for the North Pacific gray whale population, with hundreds turning up dead in what scientists are calling an unusual mortality event, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo.

According to new research published this week in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, the die-off began in January 2019 and as of the paper’s publication, the official death toll stood at 378. The species’ last unusual mortality event occurred around the year 2000 and claimed the lives of some 600 whales, according to Gizmodo.

Every winter the gray whales of the North Pacific head some 10,000 miles south from their cold water feeding grounds in the Bering, Chukchi and Arctic seas to breed off the more hospitable but less bountiful waters off Southern California and Mexico, reports Chrissy Sexton for Earth.com.

To build up the fat reserves the whales need to survive and successfully reproduce during their stay in the balmy southern climes, they have to feed non-stop from May until October.    Read More:

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