Tuesday March 19, 2024

Monterey Herald

It was a worrisome few years for North Pacific gray whales, with hundreds washing up dead on shorelines along the West Coast leading to an estimated 30% decline in their population.

But the gray whale population, which travels from Alaska where they feed to breeding grounds in Mexico, passing Monterey Bay along the way, is now considered healthy enough the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration this week declared closed the Unusual Mortality Event, or UME, it designated in 2019.

A Unusual Mortality Event declaration by NOAA happens when there’s a significant die off of any marine mammal population, such as the case when nearly 700 gray whales deaths were recorded off the coast from Mexico to Canada between 2019 and 2023.

“Understanding and investigating marine mammal UMEs is crucial because they can be indicators of ocean health, giving insight into larger environmental issues ,which may also have implications for human health,” NOAA officials said.

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