These Pacific gray whales are shrinking

These Pacific gray whales are shrinking

About the episode

Over the past 20 to 30 years, gray whales that summer along the Pacific Northwest coast have become 13 percent shorter.

This concerns a subset of 200 animals that stay closer to the coast in summer than the rest of the population of 14,500 in this part of the ocean. Not only is this group of whales smaller, but their health is also worse than that of their deep-ocean counterparts. This was reported by researchers from this area who have been searching for gray whales in this area for some time.

The change in length is not only noticeable, but may also have consequences for the survival of the species. Young calves are most at risk and it is questionable whether young calves can store enough energy for successful reproduction and recovery in the event of illness or injury.

It is also a warning to the health of the ecosystem of which these animals are a part. If these whales are not doing well, the same may be true for the entire food chain.

In the study, they found a link between changes in the dynamics of food dispersal along the coast and height decline. They now want to study this connection with food and climate further.

Read more about the research here: A study in Oregon found that Pacific Coast gray whales have become 13% shorter over the past 20 to 30 years

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