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Gray whales are starving to death on their 10,000 mile round-trip migration

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NOAA; Flickr Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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2020 is the second year in a row of higher than usual gray whale strandings along the Pacific Coast from the southern tip of Baja, California to Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. 

 

Scientists aren’t yet sure what is causing the elevated mortality, but early evidence points to climate related stressors, explains Sheila Siemens the executive director at the Noyo Center for Marine Science, an independent nonprofit education, research, and conse rvation facility located at the headlands of the Noyo River. 

So far this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded 137 deceased gray whales. Eighteen of those whales were beached in California, with two landing on the shores of Mendocino County. Siemens says this is likely just a fraction of the total gray whale mortality, as most gray whales get washed away from their near shore migration route, out to sea, and sink.

 

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