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Originally broadcast on July 19, 2006.
(check local listings for repeat airings)
Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the gray whale has made an amazing comeback in the last 80 years. But in 1999 and 2000, these unique creatures, which live along the West Coast of North America, began to mysteriously disappear by the thousands. Their population dropped by one-third.
Gray whales have the longest migration route of any mammal -- 8,500 to 12,000 miles -- and during their journey they pass some of the world's biggest cities, along some of the most polluted coastlines. In The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Ocean Adventures team travel the length of this migration, from the warm waters of Magdelena Bay in Baja California, Mexico, where the gray whales give birth, nurse their calves, rest and play before their long journey north, to the nutrient-rich feeding grounds of the Bering Sea in Alaska. The team searches for clues about this resilient, yet threatened species to gain a better understanding of the increasing challenges, both natural and man-made, that gray whales face along the way.
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- Annual Gray Whale Census from the American Cetacean Society and Cascadia Research Collective features their daily tallies and whale-watching opportunities (at acschannelislands.org)
- Journey North, from Annenberg Media, offers real time data and maps that chart the northward progress of grays (at learner.org)
- The Marine Mammal Center includes a comprehensive array of facts specifically about gray whale biology, behavior and their current status (at marinemammalcenter.org)
- The University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections offers a searchable archive of Makah Tribe photos and historical documents (at washington.edu)
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently created this extensive map of the Monterey Bay Canyon (at mbari.org)
- Ocean Alliance features video stories, science reports and audio dispatches which focus on whales and marine research (at whale.net)