New peril for gray whale survival? Predatory orcas spotted in Baja calving lagoon
It’s been about two weeks since we first began hearing from experts about gray whales as they tried to make their way back to their birth waters, and it’s not hard to see how conservationists must be getting discouraged.
The first reports, including by marine biologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), had described the whales as “losing their way.” They were turning back toward the Mexican coast, just off of the California border, when they were spotted again in the lagoon between the Baja Peninsula and San Diego. But more disturbing are videos from a U.S. Navy vessel showing orcas breaching their sides and cutting through the water, seemingly with the intent to kill all the whales in the shallow lagoon they were traveling among.
It sounds like more proof that the gray whales have to be hunted to extinction, or at least until we understand how they live, and why it’s important to be protecting them.
“I’m tired of looking at these photos,” said Andrew Rosenberg, a senior researcher with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. agency charged with the management of endangered and threatened marine species, saying that researchers are looking at more than 1,800 whale deaths—mostly in the Baja Peninsula—from 2004 through 2009, a period of time in which the whale was largely absent from U.S. waters.
“Those numbers are scary,” Rosenberg added. “It’s time to think of alternatives, and I don’t think there are many.”
And then there’s the whale’s habit of “hiding in the background.”
“We can keep looking at whale deaths in the Baja, and it’s frustrating, because those whales continue to come back,” Rosenberg said. “At some point, they’ll