Left Menu
Development News Edition

Arctic warmth likely to be reason for death of gray whales

Devdiscourse News Desk | Washington DC | Updated: 17-05-2019 06:24 IST | Created: 17-05-2019 06:06 IST
Arctic warmth likely to be reason for death of gray whales
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of gray whales have been found dead along the U.S. West Coast in recent weeks and some scientists believe the cause lies far to the north, in the heated-up Arctic waters off Alaska.

Fifty-eight gray whales have been found stranded and dead so far this year in sites stretching from California to Alaska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The latest discovery announced on Wednesday by NOAA was a dead gray whale in Turnagain Arm, a narrow glacier-fed channel off Anchorage where gray whales rarely venture.

"They're moving north from their wintering grounds in Mexico and appear to be running out of steam," Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA's Fisheries Service, said on Thursday. Dead whales examined so far have been malnourished, and the current hypothesis is the animals failed to eat enough last year in their summering grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska, Milstein said.

That is where they do most of their annual feeding and where they pack on the fat that carries sustains them until the next summer, he said. "People think that clearly something happened up there that led the whales to not get as much food," Milstein said. "Given that they put on the bulk of their weight in the summer season up there, the die is sort of cast there."

Many of the dead whales have been found in San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound off Seattle. The animals may be stopping there to look for food, or they could be "exhausted and they're there looking for a place to rest," Milstein said.


The warming Arctic waters is not the only theory about the whale deaths. The Eastern North Pacific gray whale population has grown so large, to about 27,000 animals, they may be competing for food, Milstein said. "As you have more whales in the population, more whales are going to die from time to time," he added.

Plenty of evidence points to a food problem in the whales' summering grounds in the Arctic Circle. The Bering and Chukchi seas have been extraordinarily warm since 2016, with record or near-record high sea surface temperatures and an unprecedented lack of sea ice.

Winter ice in 2018 in the Bering was the lowest in a record that stretches back more than 150 years, and ice this past winter was almost as low. Lack of sea ice and extraordinary warmth related to it have been linked to several disruptions in the Bering and Chukchi seas, including bird and seal die-offs, climate scientists and biologists say.

"It affects the whole food web from the algae to the krill on up," said Rick Thoman, a climate scientist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.



Domestic seafood trade in focus as COVID-19 changes market dynamics

As predicted earlier in a report titled Seafood industry post-COVID 19 An overhaul to trigger the growth of small fisheries, one of the changes going ahead would be increased focus on domestic seafood trade, driven by falling exports and su...

Migration post-COVID 19: Taking cues from the past to rebuild economies

Migrants are an irreplaceable part of even the essential workforce of developed countries and are on the frontline in the fight against the crisis, making an immeasurable contribution to saving the lives of natives with voting rights....

Socialization Post-COVID-19: Local associations and online groups to play crucial role

Though every age group is suffering due to the global lockdown caused by the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges before adolescents are unique. Their social space has shrunk drastically, besides, they have become highly vulnerable to ...

Pharma post-COVID 19: Reducing political clout can alter business models

Powerful governments that have historically supported the pharma industry in enforcing global intellectual property rules are changing course and introducing legislation that can override normal patent rights during emergencies....


Latest News

UN welcomes three-day ceasefire announcement by Afghan government and Taliban during Eid al-Fitr

The UN Secretary-General has welcomed the announcement by the Afghan Government and the Taliban of a ceasefire to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims around the world.Hours before the three-day festival of Eid al-...

Huntsmen defeat Ravens to win CDL Seattle

The Chicago Huntsmen defeated the London Royal Ravens 3-1 on Sunday to cap off Week 8 action in the Call of Duty League, Seattle home series. The win culminated a dominating weekend for the Huntsmen, who won 12 of 15 games in the mini-tourn...

PRESS DIGEST-Financial Times - May 25

The following are the top stories in the Financial Times. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. HeadlinesProject Birch plan to bail out stricken UK companies httpson.ft.com3eeNJSN Aston Martins chief ...

Japan looking to end Tokyo's state of emergency, eyes fresh $930 bln stimulus

Japan is looking to lift a state of emergency for Tokyo and remaining areas still facing restrictions while also considering fresh stimulus worth almost 1 trillion to help companies ride out the coronavirus pandemic, Nikkei reported on Mond...

Give Feedback