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Author: Subject: Grey Whale Concerns
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[*] posted on 5-1-2019 at 03:05 PM
Grey Whale Concerns


It seems some whales aren't doing so well....

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/grey-whales-stranded-west-coast-1.5119056




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[*] posted on 5-1-2019 at 03:45 PM


Explanations span from malnourishment to potentially reaching their population carrying capacity. Necropsies support malnourishment idea, as many stranded whales were "skinny." Something similar happened back in 1999-2000. At that time, it was the younger whales succumbed to starvation first, and the mortality event extended into a second year with adults dying later as they arguably had more reserves of fat to sustain them.
It would be interesting to hear what Shari and others observed with this year's class. Did these whales appear arrive underweight? Did lagoon fasting complicate the survival prospects for what was already an undernourished individual?
Time will tell...
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[*] posted on 5-1-2019 at 03:58 PM


This season the whales arrived in OJo de Liebre very late supposedly because the ice pack in the Bering Straight didnt freeze over so they had access to food later....and the numbers across all the lagoons were about half of mother's and calves we usually have.

There were many thin, young solitary whales and 8 dead whales that I knew of...most were young or yearling female whales and very thin which supports the malnutrition theory. I had never seen so many mortalities in one season.

Gray whales are known to limit reproduction based on food supply which may be why there were fewer calves and we saw hardly any mating either so perhaps they are compensating for a food scarcity.

They also left the lagoon earlier than usual probably because they were so hungry. So yes I did notice more small whales in poor condition this season. It will be interesting to see what 2020 brings.




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[*] posted on 5-1-2019 at 05:39 PM


Very interesting stuff. Thanks Sheri.




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[*] posted on 7-11-2019 at 10:50 AM


In today's news, 7 gray whales washed ashore in Alaska over the weekend:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/11/us/alaska-dead-gray-whales-tr...

The starvation explanation is still the go to at this point in time.
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[*] posted on 7-11-2019 at 11:59 AM


from what I have learned, amphipods that Gray whales eat are starving because they are fed by algae that grows on the underneath side of the ice pack in Alaska....it dies and drops off the bottom and falls onto the ocean floor where it feeds the amphipods. So because there is significantly less ice and in some areas where gray whales feed...none at all so the amphipods died. This makes the most sense to me and answers why whales are going to look for food in areas they dont usually feed in.



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[*] posted on 7-13-2019 at 05:34 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Bob H  
Very interesting stuff. Thanks Sheri.


Yes, very good stuff, thank you.




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[*] posted on 7-13-2019 at 07:26 AM


It doesn't take a climate scientist, Inspector Clouseau, or a Baja whale tourist guide, to determine that man made global Arctic warming is behind the gray whale deaths due to their food chain supply being disrupted because of the record-low levels of sea ice.

However, the scientists at this time are still investigating other possible causes of death as well as global warming.

_________________________________________

Could Arctic warming be behind gray whale deaths in Alaska, and elsewhere? Here’s why scientists are asking.

The region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and scientists have observed record-low levels of sea ice in the past few years. As a result, the ocean ecosystem there is in “state of flux,” Foy said.

That has to do with the way sea ice affects the marine food web, and the growth of the tiny phytoplankton that form its base.

When ice is present late into the spring, it creates conditions that cause most of the phytoplankton to fall all the way to the ocean floor, known as the benthos. At the bottom, the phytoplankton supports an ecosystem dominated by invertebrates, like crabs and sea stars – there aren’t typically a lot of fish like cod and pollock swimming around. And that “benthic-dominated” ecosystem is what supports gray whales’ primary prey – shrimp-like creatures called amphipods.

https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/06/10/could-arctic-warming...







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[*] posted on 8-9-2019 at 07:17 PM


Any reports on this years food supply?
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 12:51 AM


The ramifications of climate change are just astounding. One can only hope that the whales can somehow adapt faster than they die off.



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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 08:48 AM


We are so fortunate to be able to diversify our food sources
I wonder what alternatives they have and if so what kind of numbers it will support.
It seemed like they were making quite a comeback and now another devastating blow.
Amazing how this specialized food web now has the potential of negative impact on residents of BCS and the other creatures that benefit from the grey whales wellbeing.
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 09:02 AM


not just the grey whales unfortunately, Orcas dying off as well :(

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/three-southe...



[Edited on 8-10-2019 by defrag4]




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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 09:08 AM


Quote: Originally posted by defrag4  
not just the grey whales unfortunately, Orcas dying off as well :(

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/three-southe...



[Edited on 8-10-2019 by defrag4]


And the PCB levels they are recording are off the charts
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 09:09 AM


I read several biologist reports that speculate that the whole area is oversaturated with whales & they have reached their maximum capacity for the area. That sounds more plausible than the other theories & most articles from different sources mention this:
https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2019/05/after-a-spike...




[Edited on 8-10-2019 by bajamary1952]
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 09:28 AM


If the die-off continues for several years, that will be evidence of decreasing food supply which might be attributed to warming arctic waters. Hopefully, the population just exceeded the carrying capacity and the unusual amount of deaths will end with a decrease in population.

It may take several years of observation to understand what's going on.


[Edited on 8-10-2019 by SFandH]




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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 10:00 AM


Even without human caused influences, a stable, unchanging ecosystem is almost unheard of in nature. Boom or bust is more common, with one species filling the void left by the decline of another one.

The brutal whaling industry of the last century left a lot of food for species like pollack to flourish, and sea lions along with them. The recovery of the whale population, along with the human industry that has grown around commercial fishing, has made it tough to guess what is 'normal' anymore!




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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 11:24 AM


Quote: Originally posted by bajamary1952  
I read several biologist reports that speculate that the whole area is oversaturated with whales & they have reached their maximum capacity for the area. That sounds more plausible than the other theories & most articles from different sources mention this:
https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2019/05/after-a-spike...



[Edited on 8-10-2019 by bajamary1952]



I think we can reasonably assume that there is a cap on what the environment will support
But without that particular food source in play it will surely alter that previous number
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 11:28 AM


One things for sure
Change
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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 12:27 PM


Quote: Originally posted by BajaRat  
One things for sure
Change
Lionel :cool:


Exactly, change is normal!




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[*] posted on 8-10-2019 at 01:04 PM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Quote: Originally posted by BajaRat  
One things for sure
Change
Lionel :cool:


Exactly, change is normal!


Change is a consequence
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