Pacific gray whale population may still be severely depleted
The Pacific gray whale, long held up as an environmental success story, may not have made as impressive a comeback as once thought. Thanks to a widespread ban on commercial whaling, the Pacific gray whale became the first marine mammal to be taken off the endangered species list in 1994. When whales began dying off around 1999, scientists assumed populations were naturally stabilizing at a norm of 20,000 whales or so. But researchers publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences did a genetic analysis of whale DNA which they say suggests that centuries ago, up to 118,000 whales may have swum the Pacific, which would mean that current populations are still significantly lacking. Many scientists are pointing fingers for whale decline at a dwindling food supply, which is being impacted by — say it with us now — global warming.