Wrong-Way Whales Worry Biologists

Three killer whales are in Alaska river
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2011 3:17 PM CDT
In this photo taken Oct. 4, barnacles cover the fins of two killer whales swimming in the Nushagak River, south of Ekwok, Alaska.   (AP Photo/NOAA, Jon Sharp)

(Newser) – Alaska biologists are keeping a worried eye on three killer whales who apparently took a wrong turn and have ended up in fresh water in the Nushagak River, reports the Anchorage Daily News. The whales already look to be showing signs of "freshwater stress," says one scientist, and the river almost certainly can't provide enough food for the trio.

What's worse, they show no inclination of trying to leave on their own, and the river will likely freeze over the next several weeks. "We are coming up against some natural, weather-related time lines," says a marine biologist. If the whales don't move on their own soon, scientists may try to herd them out, possibly by banging on metal pipes with hammers. They're not the only whales in jeopardy.

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