Whale entanglements on the West Coast rise again in 2018, is this the new normal?

News this month that the number of whales found entangled off the West Coast had decreased in 2017 prompted optimism among some. But, already preliminary numbers for 2018 are headed back toward the record highs of just a few years ago.

While whale entanglements in U.S. waters were slightly above the 10-year average in 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Dec. 6 that West Coast numbers were nearly half the 2015 and 2016 stats. Of the 31 entangles whales reported in 2017, 25 were in the waters off California – humpbacks who like to feed on anchovies in the central coast areas fished for crab and prawn led the way, but gray whales were not far behind.

NOAA’s preliminary 2018 numbers report 45 entangled whales confirmed in the waters off Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California; 35 of which were found off California. Many of the struggling whales have been sighted off Orange County and Monterey – two areas that federal officials say are bustling with boaters, fishing and whales. Final numbers are expected in March.

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