Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) breaching.

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)  released the following statement on the increased number of dead gray whales washing up on West Coast beaches:

“More dead gray whales have washed up on West Coast beaches this year than ever before, a likely result of human-caused climate change. It’s heartbreaking that so many of these magnificent creatures have perished because we continue to take little or no real action to combat global warming.

“So far this year, 37 gray whales have been found dead on California beaches; a total of 155 have died along the coasts of Canada, the United States and Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration has now declared the elevated gray whale strandings along the West Coast an ‘Unusual Mortality Event’ and is devoting more resources to study it.

“Early reports show that many of the whales starved to death because they had an inadequate food supply during their feeding season in Arctic waters. Scientists believe the loss of sea ice due to climate change has disrupted the Arctic ecosystem and reduced the population of shrimp-like amphipods, the gray whale’s main source of food.

“This means whales are starving to death during their long migration north after the breeding season in Mexican waters.

“Gray whales are what is known as an ‘indicator species’ for ocean health, a measure of how well or poorly the oceans are faring. These deaths are further proof that climate change is having a profoundly harmful effect on our planet.

“If we fail to act now, iconic species like the gray whale could be lost forever, our oceans irreparably harmed and our lives forever altered.”