Where are the whales? Scientists find clues thousands of miles away

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WASHINGTON (NPR) — In recent years, endangered North Atlantic right whales have disappeared from the waters where they’re normally found. Instead of spending their summers feeding in the Gulf of Maine, scientists began seeing whale activity hundreds of miles north in Canadian waters.

Showing up in unexpected places is dangerous for a whale. Many were struck by ships or tangled in fishing gear, a serious danger for a species with only 340 animals left.

Why the sudden shift? Scientists have begun linking it to a chain reaction in the ocean, brought on by a changing climate. The trail is leading them 2,000 miles away to the world’s second-largest ice sheet, sitting on top of Greenland. As temperatures rise, the world’s melting is creating far-reaching impacts.

On today’s episode, Lauren Sommers takes Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong on an expedition to Greenland’s ice sheet and explains how the ripple effects of climate change may be impacting endangered whales thousands of miles away. This episode is part one of a series from NPR’s climate desk on the interconnectedness of ice around the world.

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This episode was produced by Liz Metzger, edited by Gabriel Spitzer and fact checked by Brit Hanson. The audio engineer was Robert Rodriguez.

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