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CNN: Gray Whales Are Dying Along the Pacific Coast

March 16, 2022
  • Malnutrition
  • Pathology
  • Climate change

Gray whales are dying along the Pacific Coast: The warming Arctic may be to blame

Published in CNN: March 16, 2022

Since 2019, an international group of scientists, field biologists and volunteers have been investigating a mysterious phenomenon known as an Unusual Mortality Event, or UME, that’s been killing off one the world’s heartiest survivors: the northern Pacific gray whale. In that time, the number of stranded gray whales has reached 500 — a fraction of the many thousands that likely died and sank to the ocean floor.

While its underlying cause remains elusive, many researchers point to the conditions in and around a rapidly changing Arctic Ocean. The retreating ice sheet, warming waters and a shifting ecosystem may be decimating gray whales. Understanding these threats to the whales could reveal an even broader ecological impact — and another piece of Earth's biome rewritten by climate change.

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climate change
Pádraig Duignan
Kathi George
Gray Whale