Scientists hope necropsy information will reveal reason behind grey whale deaths

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Over 70 grey whales have washed up on the North American west coast this yr, in what NOAA officers have declared an “uncommon mortality occasion.”

Fourteen of these whales have appeared within the Bay Space.

Bay Space scientists spoke in regards to the work they’re doing to search out out the rationale behind the spike in whale deaths.

The San Francisco chapter of the American Cetacean Society hosted Tuesday evening’s presentation with biologist Moe Flannery of the California Academy of Sciences.

Her group, together with the Marine Mammal Middle, have carried out 12 necropsies of grey whales this yr.

Ship strikes are a significant concern, however the main reason behind loss of life is malnutrition. Scientists say might be because of a large number of things, together with local weather change.

Grey whales solely feed in Alaska throughout the summer time after which migrate to Baja California within the winter to search out heat waters to provide beginning. It is one of many longest identified migration patterns on the earth.

“For some motive, and we do not know why they might not have sufficient diet to make all of it the best way again to Alaska,” stated Flannery. She pointed to the quick meals provide, poor high quality of meals, a bigger inhabitants of grey whales, or an unknown illness as some potential theories for malnutrition.

Scientists say the unprecedented quantity of information they’ve collected from necropsies this yr will assist discover a solution. There was an analogous loss of life occasion involving whales 1999-2000. A whole lot of grey whales stranded alongside the west coast in two years, however solely two necropsies had been carried out. Trendy marine biology infrastructure has allowed scientists to entry extra specimens.

“Hopefully the elevated information we will gather this yr, together with people in Washington and Alaska, we’ll have the ability to add extra information and actually take a look at the query,” stated Flannery.

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