Tuesday June 18, 2024


A group of gray whales that spends its summer on the Oregon coast is shrinking, with young whales on track to be around 5 feet shorter than their elders, a new study finds.

In total, more than 14,000 gray whales roam the northeastern Pacific, which extends from Mexico to Alaska, and most spend their summers in the Arctic. The new study focused on just 200 whales that linger in the warm, shallow waters along the coast of Oregon and tend to be in worse shape than other gray whales.

Researchers from Oregon State University used drones to monitor these whales and gauge changes in their size over time. They found that, while a whale born in the year 2000 could be expected to grow to around 40 feet in length, a whale born in 2020 would end up closer to 35 feet in length. Researchers said the shift in size is dramatic, comparable to the average American woman shrinking from 5 feet, 4 inches to 4 feet, 8 inches in the space of just 20 years.

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