There have been at least three sightings of tailless gray whales migrating north along the California coast so far this year. This increasingly common occurrence is most likely caused by fishing equipment, which entangles the tail and ultimately saws it off or cuts off circulation to the area.
Without a tail, a whale will have increased difficulty migrating over long distances. Tailless whales must adapt to their condition by maneuvering their bodies differently when diving back into the water after surfacing to breathe. The absence of a tail also makes it difficult for whales to feed and defend their babies.
While no clear solution to this problem exists, several fisheries are collaborating with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish preventative measures that will hopefully avoid future entanglements.