The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed humpback whales in Alaskan waters to experience a quieter environment than usual, and there has been a marked difference in their behavior. The cruise ships that play a big role Alaska’s tourism industry generate loud noises underwater that interfere with the activity of marine mammals. With cruises largely being a no-go during the pandemic, overall marine traffic in the state’s Glacier Bay dropped by about 40%, the BBC reported in a comprehensive piece about the whales in southern Alaska. Humpback whales previously stuck close by each other and communicated in less complex ways, similar to people in a loud bar, National Park Service wildlife biologist Christine Gabriele told the BBC. But with fewer ships, whales spread out across greater distances and their whale songs became more varied. Mothers were observed giving their calves more freedom and even sometimes taking naps, she said. A breaching humpback whale in Glacier Bay. The first large cruise ship in 21 months ― a test voyage aimed at gauging how well COVID-19 precautions would work ― returned to Alaska last month, according to the Anchorage Daily News . Gabriele and other researchers spoke to NPR last summer about how […]

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