Gray Whales Going Hungry


Scientists are reporting an unusually high number of undernourished whales for the first time since malnourishment and disease claimed a third of the gray whale population in 1999 and 2000. Ken Weiss at the Los Angeles Times reports that so far this year scientists haven’t seen a decline in numbers. Nor are they sure what’s causing the whales to waste. But they suspect the same thing that triggered a die-off eight years ago &mdash a rapid warming of the whales’ Arctic feeding waters. Gray whales consume tons of small crustaceans in order to pack on the pounds for their long migration to Mexican breeding lagoons. But as Arctic ice recedes, the crustaceans on the Bering Sea floor are disappearing. . . Add this to the bad news for gray whales on the other side of the Pacific too. JULIA WHITTY

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  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.