Satellite tags show ties between whale groups

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Three western Pacific gray whales tracked across the North Pacific Ocean are causing marine mammal biologists to re-examine commonly held notions about the highly endangered species.

For the second time in two years, scientists have tracked western gray whales traveling from summer feeding grounds in Russia across the Pacific to North America.

Western gray whales are considered a separate population from California gray whales. Only 130 remain.

California gray whales are a recovery success story with a population estimated at 18,000. They were taken off the endangered species list in 1994.

The director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, Bruce Mate, says the two populations may share feeding grounds off Russia or there may be no more western gray whales, only eastern whales that have extended their range.