New peril for gray whale survival? Predatory orcas spotted in Baja calving lagoon
The presence of nine orcas near a small lagoon in Mexico has environmentalists fearing the orcas are becoming a new and dangerous threat to gray whales, which numbers have declined from around 20,000 to only around 5,500 today.
The nine orca whales were spotted in the small lagoon, known as Laguna San Pedro, on Saturday night, near Santa Rosalía, in a region known for growing tourism in the area and is an important nesting area for gray whales.
When the whales returned to the lagoon with the help of boats, about 20 tourists including U.S. Navy divers saw them.
The visitors, who were on vacation in the area, immediately went to the area and said they felt something was wrong. A day later, the lagoon remained closed and the tour boats returned to the area.
Gray whales usually nest in the Laguna San Pedro and return on their annual birthing journeys. The lagoon near Santa Rosalía is also known for its population of southern bottlenose dolphins.
The presence of orcas has forced the Mexican Navy to close the lagoon and prevent anyone from swimming in or visiting the area.
The Department of the Navy is monitoring the situation for violations of international and Mexican environmental standards, including the United Nations’ Marine Mammal Protection Act, while Navy personnel monitor the lagoon.
In the mean time, the area surrounding the lagoon has been closed to tourists and is currently under federal government control.
The Department of Defense is still conducting underwater surveys to assess whether or not orcas have been spotted in other areas surrounding Laguna San Pedro, or whether it is the first sighting.
There is concern that if orca whales reach the lagoon, they will follow the migratory patterns of gray whales and attack them.
If the first sighting is confirmed, then the Navy will have a new battle every November in the Santa Rosalía Lagoon, while the State of Baja California will have another one every April.
“We want to know that