Mystery of Sudden Whale Appearance Deepens

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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Mystery of Sudden Whale Appearance Deepens

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There's something fishy happening around the bay, with some unusual marine life sightings.

A Pacific gray whale named Flex is heading our way after a meandering trip from Russia to Alaska and Oregon, according to the Guardian. Scientists are a little surprised, and aren't sure if his behavior is normal or a fluke.

He travels about a hundred miles a day, according to the CC Times, and he's too busy migrating to stop and eat. There's no telling where he might be off to next.

It's particularly important to monitor gray whales, since their behavior can reveal the environmental harm of underwater industries like oil and gas drilling. Whales like Flex are about to disappear, with only a couple dozen left in the world.

Meanwhile, we know a little bit more about a group of orcas -- which are technically dolphins, not whales -- sighted near the Golden Gate Bridge. They're apparently from Seattle, according to the Ex, and have come to hunt for salmon. They could stick around for several months, depending on the salmon supply, and may even eventually depart at the same time as other gray whales.

It's a promising sign for our salmon supply that the orcas have arrived. Once on the brink of extinction, some salmon populations have risen in the last year. But the Delta is far from saved, with billions needed to save crumbling water infrastructure, according to the Gate. One earthquake could leave millions of Californians without drinkable water and destroy the salmon's delicate ecosystem.

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