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Gray whale populations decline off the West Coast

Dan Meyers

Whale watchers on the West Coast may experience a disappointing turnout due to a dwindling gray whale population in the Pacific Ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration credits this decline to a variety of potential ecological influences.

These influences include low birth rate, lack of food, and killer whale predation, though the agency reports there are a number of factors they are still working to understand.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Public Affairs Officer Michael Milstein says the examination of stranded whales could provide more insight into some key causes.

“So they’re taking samples of tissue and then that goes to the lab,” said Milstein. “So that may give us some clues too, about whether disease could be a factor in these whales or something else that isn’t obvious.”

People who come across a stranded whale should immediately contact the West Coast Marine Mammal stranding network at 866-767-6114.

Jasmine Lewin was a freelance reporter in 2022 and 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Lewin wrote for the University of Oregon quarterly magazine Ethos before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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