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For a few months twice a year, the waters off California are home to graceful gray whales migrating north or south between the coast of Mexico and the Bering Sea. This year, however, it seems that fewer whales are surviving the journey north.
Two dead gray whales washed up on the shores of Northern California beaches on Tuesday (April 16), which means eight have been found around California's Bay Area since the beginning of the year; seven in just the past two months. So far this year, a total of 30 dead gray whales have washed up on the West Coast: Eight in Washington, one in Oregon and 21 in California.
Whales - Eschrichtius - Robustus - Migrations - Species
Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) make one of the largest migrations of any species. Seeing them on the West Coast this time of year is expected; the whales cruise by California, Oregon and Washington between March and early June on their trip north from the coast of Baja California, Mexico, to the cool, food-rich waters of the Bering and Chukchi seas, north of Alaska. They'll make their return trip south, back to Mexico, in December and January.
All along the West Coast, biologists and citizen scientists watch for the dappled whales, recording their numbers and tracking their behavior, Greenman said. This year, there have been far more reports of gray whales swimming closer to shore and spending more time in bays, marinas and harbors. "It seems like they're trying to feed [in those locations] because they're so skinny and emaciated," he said.
Northern - California - Whales
In Northern California, three out of four of the dead whales that have been examined so far appear to...
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