Blind and Lost Whales: Solar Storms interfering with Gray Whale Migration

Written by Maeve Ballantine.

If there is one topic that continues to fascinate humans, it is the study of what happens in outer space. There is still so much of it that we have not explored. Even the parts we are familiar with continue to show us new and incredible feats that we would never have thought possible. However recent studies have shown us that certain solar patterns may be disrupting the lives of organic creatures on earth, namely the migration patterns of the gray whale.

Scientists have concluded that gray whales, who have the longest longest yearly migration traveling between 10,000 and 12,000 miles, rely on their heavily amplified senses to pick up on magnetic fields on Earth. This is what helps them find where they need to go to escape the colder weather. However, solar storms are shifting the currents of Earth’s magnetic fields. A solar storm is made up of large amounts of energy particles that burst from the sun in a mass of solar energy towards earth. This massive burst of energy and radio frequency is what disrupts the magnetic currents on earth, thus throwing off the whales’ sense of direction. The high energy does not cause direct harm to the whales, but it throws off the animal’s migration, which can be extremely dangerous. It can confuse them and cause them to get lost and possibly stranded. If an animal that relies on sense rather than sight to migrate loses that sense, they can be wandering for a long time, possibly losing access to sources of food. Even greater danger is posed since the animals in question are whales. Losing a sense of direction for whales can mean ending up in a different location and if they are not careful, they can get beached. If this happens, there is little that can be done to help it, short of getting an entire group of volunteers to help move it which is hard to do on short notice. What is worse, if a large amount of whales are beached, there is no way all of them can be saved, even with a large group of volunteers. 

The most chilling part of this problem is that very little can be done to solve it. There are human causes to the difficulty of whale migration but the primary cause, the high amount of energy and radio frequency, is something that is out of human control. Whales are being stranded, getting lost at sea, and are in danger of dying and there is nothing humans can do about this. These solar storms are part of what makes outer space so fascinating yet also so terrifying. There is still so much about outer space that we are still oblivious to so many of its mysteries and this is one of the first instances of something in outer space having harmful effects to creatures on earth. We can observe but we can not control, which only leaves us with one, terrifying question: what can be done?

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