Researchers off Mexico's Pacific Coast have observed what might be a case of global warming's effects in the far north: gray whales returning...

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ANCHORAGE — Researchers off Mexico’s Pacific Coast have observed what might be a case of global warming’s effects in the far north: gray whales returning to calving grounds malnourished.

At least 10 percent of gray whales returning to Laguna San Ignacio, one of four main calving and breeding lagoons off Baja California, Mexico, showed signs of being underfed, said Steve Swartz, a National Marine Fisheries Service whale expert based in Silver Spring, Md.

Researchers are trying to find out if it’s a warning sign that climate change in the North Pacific is affecting the tiny crustaceans the whales eat.

Wayne Perryman, who oversees the annual gray whale census for NOAA Fisheries, said observations by veteran researchers in the breeding lagoons cannot be discounted. However, “There’s no way of knowing if what they saw was a representative sample of the population,” Perryman said.

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