Good news for gray whales! Their numbers are on the rise, according to scientists monitoring the annual gray whale migration along the California coast. Whale counts during this migration have revealed an increased number of calves traveling with the various family groups heading north to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Actual numbers have jumped from 945 in 2005 to 1,018 in 2006. Ironically, this reproductive success may be attributed to the effects of global warming - the melting of polar sea ice allows whales to travel farther in search of food. Read the story here.
Gray whales were hunted to the brink of extinction during the whaling boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They received full protection by the International Whaling Commission in 1947. Since then, populations have successfully rebounded and now number around 22,000.