North Pacific gray whale spotted in southern Atlantic for first time

Published: May 14, 2013


Did it navigate the Northwest Passage or round Cape Horn? Scientists working off the coast of Namibia in southwest Africa say they’ve confirmed a sighting of a North Pacific gray whale there, the first ever south of the equator. In 2010, a North Pacific gray whale was confirmed to have wandered into the Mediterranean Sea, and scientists speculated it had come via the increasingly ice-free Northwest Passage.

From The Guardian:

John Paterson, of the Walvis Bay (Namibia) Strandings Network, says the whale was first sighted by tour boats on dolphin watch on 4 May. The “strange whale” was confirmed as a gray, and photographed, by a member of his team on 12 May.

“The question is now, what is origin of this whale?” says Paterson. The photographs prove this is not the same individual that turned up in the Mediterranean, he says. “Is it another individual that has traverse the Northwest Passage, or perhaps traveled around the southern tip of South America and across the Atlantic? Unfortunately, we’ll never know the route it followed to get here.”

Gray whales have been absent from the North Atlantic since the 18th century, when they were under heavy hunting pressure.

Read more at The Guardian: First gray whale spotted south of equator

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