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07 June 2010

Against All Odds - Gray Whale Resighted In The Mediterranean








On the 10th May 2010 we reported on a rare sighting of a gray whale off the coast of Israel, the first ever documented sighting of this species in the Mediterranean basin. As if this sighting wasnt exciting or puzzling enough the mystery remained what would become of the whale so far from its usual habitat? Twenty-three days later we have an answer as its been resighted off the coast of north-eastern Spain!

On 30th May 2010, the sighting of a gray whale in front of Barcelona harbour was made by members of SUBMON, an ngo dedicated to developing studies related to the conservation and assessment of marine habitats. Pictures from the sighting were compared with the ones taken by Aviad Scheinin from IMMRAC on May 8th 2010 in Israel waters by Manuel Castellote at the National Marine Mammal Lab (AFSC-NMFS-NOAA) confirming the match. It is now known that this same individual has travelled from Israel to Spain, a distance of some 3,000km in 23 days.

The animal was seen to be heading south (towards the Straits of Gibraltar) and researchers are now on high alert for any further sightings of this animal. WDCS Species Programme Lead, Nicola Hodgins said; "Its wonderful news to hear of a resighting of this animal, where its heading is the burning question! Its likely route would be to leave the Mediterranean, and then head north along the coasts of Portugal and France, possibly coming as far north as the UK and North Atlantic waters".
 
The mystery surrounding this animal - Where did it come from? What is it eating? Where is it going? - continues and any sightings of a large whale with a mottled grey skin colour and no dorsal fin should be reported to WDCS, ideally accompanied with photographs of the underside of the tail (which it will raise on diving) for comparisons purposes.
 

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