Whale of a Problem

Global warming may be starving the California gray whale

12-01-2008 // Hannah Schardt

IN RECENT YEARS, when large numbers of gray whales began to show up suffering from starvation, researchers hoped for a silver lining: Perhaps the whales, once hunted to near extinction, had recovered so well that they were exceeding their historical limits. But a new Stanford University study of the whales’ genetic diversity indicates that the mammals’ former population was likely close to 100,000--far more than the 22,000 that now swim the Pacific--and suggests that the whales may be starving due a reduced food supply caused by changing climate conditions in their Arctic feeding grounds.

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