- VANCOUVER (CP) -- Grey whales are dying in unprecedented numbers on their
migration route to the Bering Sea from the Baja Peninsula.
- The migration period for the greys along
the west coast of British Columbia doesn't even finish until the end of
- But already seven grey whales have been
found dead on beaches in the province.
- That's a small portion of the total so
far along the continent's west coast, with almost 150 greys in total being
discovered, including 60 in Mexico, 60 in California and 16 in Washington
- Grey whales have been in the public eye
lately because they have been hunted by the Makah tribe of Washington state.
- Late last month, the Makah managed to
harpoon and shoot a female grey, despite protests from environmental groups
that had been trying to impede the hunt.
- Ed Lochbaum, marine mammal co-ordinator
for the federal Fisheries Department, said "there is no doubt several
of these big animals are running out of gas, the question is why?"
- There are a number of theories, including
low body weight and environmental stress.
- "The problem could also be with
the climate in the Bering Sea where the whales feed," said Lochbaum.
- Grey whales gorge themselves during their
summer in the North, but fast on their migration to and from Mexico.
- Lochbaum has noticed that "whenever
these whales come inside the Georgia Strait, there seem to be more deaths."
- He said the increased spottings of dead
whales could simply be because it's easier for people to see them in inside
- When they migrate on the west side of
Vancouver Island, there are plenty of coves where a dead whale would never
- Scientists are doing tests on samples
taken from many of the dead whales, but it will be two to four months before
they have answers and a possible cause of death.
- The grey whale population is estimated
to be about 26,000 and the species is no longer considered endangered.
- Healthy whales normally live to 60 years