Scientists have never before identified such a long flight for aquatic vertebrates.
A long, record-breaking journey halfway around the world was followed by a gray whale discovered by conservationists off the southwest coast of Africa near Namibia. Genetic analysis indicated that the whale belongs to an endangered group in the North Pacific Ocean. “This would mean a migration of up to 27,000 kilometres, which would be the farthest known migration of aquatic vertebrates,” said Ross Holzel of Durham University.
A study he co-authored in the journal Biology Letters suggests the discovery may be of importance to the conservation of rare whales and their response to global changes. “We don’t know the type of migration, but it could be an accidental migration or an intentional migration made possible thanks to the now open passage to the Arctic,” Holzel said. A male gray whale was discovered in a relatively emaciated state between 4 May and 11 July 2013 in front of the coastal town of Walvis Bay.
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