A listening station on the channel floor is able to capture whale calls as far away as 30 miles (48 kilometers), the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. That device is connected by cable to a buoy floating above that transmits data by satellite to scientists on shore.
So far, the cause of the die-offs remains a mystery, though theories include starvation from lack of food, or a disease that mimics chronic wasting disease. Teams of scientists are investigating what the casualties mean for the gray whale population as a whole. But some also fear that the deaths could be part of a larger trend as animals struggle to adapt to climate change. Said Ferguson: The “gray whales are just one piece” to the environmental puzzle.
Threats to the species include energy exploration and development, oil spills and clean up efforts, vessel strikes, human noise and entanglement in fishing gear. There are less than 100 of the whales left in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico near the De Soto canyon, where the population resides.
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“These are the second and third juvenile Humpbacks found dead on the Currituck Banks Peninsula in less than a week,” said the post. “Another was found on February 12 north of Oregon Inlet near Nags Head.”