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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST

Baja love fest sets off whale baby boom

June 01, 2004|Pete Thomas

GRAY whales are having a baby boom, with nearly 180 cow-calf pairs migrating from Baja California, according to a recent census taken from Palos Verdes Peninsula.

That's twice as many as in the previous season, which was also productive. Federal wildlife officials made similar observations near Monterey. Not all the whales can be seen, but the counts are considered an indicative sample.

Scientists say abundant food in the Bering Sea is helping the whales rebound. Whale numbers plummeted from more than 26,000 to about 17,000 in a three-year period ending in 2001. Gray whales currently number about 20,000.

"If these new whales enjoy a good summer and can get enough of a food supply and make it through their first long migration -- because that first year is really critical for them -- the population should jump," says Alisa Schulman-Janiger, director of the Palos Verdes project.

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Pete Thomas

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