- MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican environmental group said Thursday they
were alarmed by the lack of migrating gray whales and feared world climate
changes could be jeopardizing the survival of the giant mammals.
- The "Grupo de los Cien" (Group
of One Hundred) ecological body said only a third -- around 10 -- of the
usual number of gray whales had turned up at their winter sanctuary off
the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
- "One gray whale arrived on Nov.
7 and since then hardly any. The first whale was very early and the others
are very late," said Homero Aridjis, the poet and ecologist who heads
the Group of One Hundred.
- Aridjis said global warming could be
the culprit, noting that last year was the warmest year on record for the
- "There has been an undeniable change
in the global climate and it's possible this has had an impact on the migratory
patterns of the whales," Aridjis told Reuters.
- Every winter, gray whales migrate 6,200
miles from the freezing Arctic Ocean to warmer sanctuaries in Baja California
Sur's San Ignacio lagoon in northwestern Mexico and the surrounding El
Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest wildlife refuges in Latin
- The first usually arrive in December
and remain for about four months, breeding and feeding. But that seems
to have changed this year for reasons environmentalists said were unclear,
but probably related to climate change.
- Bruce Mate, an expert in marine mammals,
said in a statement from the Group of One Hundred that "we have never
seen the migration begin so late."
- At the end of December, a team led by
Mate flew over the coastline of Oregon in the Pacific Northwest without
sighting a single whale. The statement said scientific teams monitoring
the coast of Washington state also observed the same phenomenon.
- At the same time, the Group of One Hundred
said Alaskan newspapers reported hundreds of whales off the coast of the
Kodiak Archipelago, which was "very abnormal" for this time of
- Hunted to the brink of extinction by
the 1940s, gray whales now have recovered to number an estimated 24,000,
- But Aridjis said "alarming"
changes to the environment were occurring in the seas through which the
whales swim. In the Bering Sea, for example, he said investigators had
reported deaths of marine animals and unusually high amounts of algae.
- He added that North American salmon populations
were falling sharply while their migration patterns also appeared to be
- Mexican television broadcaster Televisa
reported Wednesday that whales had been sighted off the Mexican Pacific
tourist resort of Acapulco, believed to be the first time whales had traveled
so far south.
- Aridjis said the whales had been too
far away to identify the species and it was not known whether they were