New peril for gray whale survival? Predatory orcas spotted in Baja calfing lagoon
The California gray whale has more than just a cute name: The Cetacean in Danger (C.I.D.). That’s because the gray whale is the most imperiled species on Earth: They’re being overfished, as well as trapped in a shrinking range, with no prospect of reprieve.
Today, the gray whale population, which ranges from southern California to Baja to the Bering Sea, is estimated to be between 17,000 and 22,000 whales. But scientists believe the numbers have plummeted by more than a third over the past 50 years.
“It won’t be long before there is no more gray whale,” said Mike Barlow, a spokesman for Ocean Conservancy, an organization dedicated to protecting the ocean’s wildlife.
The gray whale has long been considered a symbol of the Pacific Ocean. It was named for Captain James Cook, who first saw it on Christmas Day 1769.
The Cetacean in Danger (C.I.D.) says they’re in danger. They have been pushed to the brink over the past 50 years. They’re being trapped, and also being overfished — with no hope of reprieve.
“If the Cetacean in Danger (C.I.D.) and the Gray Whale (I.W.H.) is right, then it is as bad as we can imagine,” said Jeff Conover, a research biologist with the University of Washington’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.
A team of researchers with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Seattle have been monitoring the gray whale population via satellite and radio since the early 1990s. They have tracked the population from Oregon to California.
Their work has proven to be invaluable in documenting the alarming declines.
But they are now being called into question, too, based on the fact that a white whale spotted off the coast of Mexico last week was probably a northern killer whale, which hunt gray whales and other