GRAY WHALE MIGRATION 2015/16 IS OFF THE CHARTS.
The Coalition is delighted to see the big increase in numbers this season with lots of healthy whales and cows and calves.
It has been a record year. No question and no real explanation as to why the numbers have soared. The graph below which comes from the American Cetacean Society shows the extraordinary change which has been recorded this year.
But as always, there’s a downside to this good news. When the International Whaling Commission meets, the big increase in Gray whale numbers will provide the kind of evidence that the Russian Federation will use to increase its kill quota of 142 whales a year.
As well, the current waiver process which the Makah Indian Tribe has before National Marine & Fisheries will almost certainly benefit from this increase in numbers by demonstrating the whales are in good shape and that killing a few will make no difference.
Nor do we know how extensive the transient orca predation has been as there’s no funding for any studies to ascertain the mortality – which in the past has been as high as 35% of the population.
But for now we can rejoice in the good news and hope that the whales continue to thrive. It may well be that Gray Whales are benefiting from warming seawater temperatures by being able to access the benthic community further out to sea. We simply don’t know.
And… when there are major increases like this in any population, it can foreshadow a crash.
So we keep our collective fingers crossed and watch the unfolding scenario.