In the past few years, humpback whales have been washing up on the beaches of Western Australia in staggeringly high numbers. Before 2007, the area saw two or three strandings each year. But in 2008, there were 13 strandings, followed by 46 in 2009,16 in 2010, and 17 in 2011. The surge is frightening for conservationists, who are still searching for the exact cause of the mysterious strandings.
There are a few major theories at play, the most likely from Carly Holyoake, a researcher at Murdoch University, who said that the likely cause for calf strandings was poor nutrition, according to the Guardian. But what's with the sudden lack of nutrition? That's linked back to climate change, she said.
"Humpback whales feed almost exclusively on krill in the Antarctic and it's unknown what effect an expanding krill fishery in conjunction with climate warming might be having on the abundance of krill," Holyoake said.
There are about 80,000 humpback whales in the world, with certain populations considered endangered. As The Dodo reported in April, climate change could spell disaster for many marine mammals, because it can completely wipe out their food source.