Federal scientists are opening an official investigation into what’s causing the spike in gray whale deaths in the Pacific Ocean, including along Alaska’s coast.
The agency also announced that a dead gray whale was discovered this week in the Alaska Peninsula town of Chignik Bay. It’s the fifth one found in state waters this migratory season.
Scientists say many of the dead whales appear to be very skinny. That’s raising questions about whether global warming and reduced sea ice are affecting their feeding grounds in the Arctic, and their primary prey, shrimp-like creatures called amphipods.
But on a call with reporters, University of Washington oceanographer Sue Moore said the explanation is elusive.
“The Arctic is changing very, very quickly. And whales are going to have to adjust to that,” she said. “But gray whales are good at eating a variety of things. So it becomes a complex question very quickly.”
NOAA officials say it could takes months to years to assign a cause to the deaths.
- Gov. Mike Dunleavy says the Alaska Federation of Natives hasn’t offered a valid solution to the fiscal crisis. He wants to know AFN’s plans to fight sexual assaults and educational woes in Native communities.
- The Yukon’s Minto Mine is expected to resume ore production in the near future. That means that Skagway’s ore terminal may begin loading ships with ore after months of inactivity. However, this may complicate the other needs of Skagway’s port.
- Opponents of the Pebble Mine are doing all they can to get Sen. Lisa Murkowski on their side. But Murkowski is not ready to make a declaration about the mine, for or against.
- Regulations on the Kuskokwim River are intended to keep fish populations sustainable for the future. But they can be frustrating for the Yup'ik people who've fished the river for generations.