As California gray whales wind their way south along North America’s Pacific coast — from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to their spring destination in the secluded lagoons of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula — researchers from Alaska to Mexico are watching, worried about another year of unexplained die-offs.
So far, at least three whales have died on the southbound journey, according to a spokesman at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And there are unconfirmed reports of strandings in Mexico.
Necropsies suggest two of the confirmed whales were “thin,” while a third, a juvenile, seemed to be of average body condition, said NOAA’s Michael Milstein.
Last spring and summer, 215 whales inexplicably washed up along North America’s West Coast, suggesting thousands more had also perished but had sunk at sea. Concerned, NOAA called for an investigation in May, bringing together researchers from the Arctic to Mexico to explore the strandings in a uniform, systematic manner.
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