A gray whale has had an incredibly long journey. Environmentalists speak of a record.
Johannesburg – Halfway around the world – a record-breaking journey was made by a gray whale that environmentalists discovered off the coast of the southwest African state of Namibia. Genetic analysis indicated that the whale belongs to an endangered population in the North Pacific.
“That means a migration of up to 27,000 kilometers – which would be the furthest known migration of an aquatic vertebrate,” said Rus Hoelzel of Durham University.
In a study he co-authored in the specialist journal Biology Letters they say the discovery could be important in the conservation of the rare whales and their response to global change.
“We do not know the type of migration, but it could be both a random migrant as well as a deliberate migration that was made possible by the now open passage into the Arctic,” explained Hoelzel.
The male gray whale was discovered in a relatively emaciated state between May 4 and July 11, 2013 in front of the port city of Walvis Bay.
A female gray whale from the West Pacific already swam 22,511 kilometers during its migration, like an international research team in the Biology Letters reported by the British Royal Society in 2015. Now this record seems broken.
A young gray whale – “Wally” – off the coast of Italy made headlines in the spring. The visit puzzled scientists. (dpa / ml)