Monday October 17, 2022

Sail-World Cruising

Gray whales that migrate along the West Coast of North America continued to decline in number over the last 2 years, according to a new NOAA Fisheries assessment. The population is now down 38 percent from its peak in 2015 and 2016, as researchers probe the underlying reasons.

The population also produced the fewest calves on record this year since counts began in 1994, an accompanying report explains.

The 38 percent decline from a peak of about 27,000 whales in 2016 to 16,650 this year resembles past fluctuations in the eastern North Pacific population. Researchers at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center said it warrants continued close monitoring. Population counts for eastern North Pacific gray whales are typically conducted over the course of a 2-year period. However, NOAA Fisheries will add a third year counting gray whales that pass along the Central California Coast to this survey, from late December to mid-February 2023.

“Given the continuing decline in numbers since 2016, we need to be closely monitoring the population to help understand what may be driving the trend,” said Dr. David Weller, Director of the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division at the science center. “We have observed the population changing over time, and we want to stay on top of that.”

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