A startling discovery: grey whale spotted in the Atlantic for the first time in centuries

In the waters of the Atlantic, a team of scientists recently photographed a rare gray whale. This is a very rare encounter and the reason why is not at all reassuring

In a groundbreaking observation, a rare grey whale was spotted off the coast of Massachusetts in the Atlantic, an ocean from which the species was believed to have disappeared since the 18th century. This remarkable sighting raises questions about marine life patterns and environmental changes.

A surprising sighting

The encounter took place earlier this month when a team from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life was conducting an aerial survey south of Nantucket. It was during this expedition that the massive creature caught their eye.

For approximately 45 minutes, the team tracked the whale from above, striving to capture as many photographs as possible. Upon returning to their base, the experts compared these images with existing records, leading to a significant conclusion.

The marine animal identified was a grey whale, a species predominantly found in the northern Pacific Ocean.

“My brain was trying to process what I was seeing because this animal was something that shouldn’t really exist in these waters. We were laughing at how wild and exciting it was to see an animal that disappeared from the Atlantic hundreds of years ago,” technician Kate Laemmle shared.

Although it’s been about 200 years, there have been five sightings of grey whales in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in the last 15 years. The species, scientifically known as Eschrichtius robustus, is distinguishable from other whales by its lack of a dorsal fin and mottled skin.

Why the Atlantic?

The question arises: why has this grey whale ventured into the Atlantic? The hypothesis proposed by scientists is not reassuring. Grey whales are migratory species that embark on a long journey southward to breed each December, returning northward in February.

Their migratory route typically follows the northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific, a stretch traditionally covered by sea ice. However, due to global temperature increases, the extent of sea ice has diminished, allowing grey whales to reach the Atlantic, where ice absence is regularly recorded in summer.

“These sightings of grey whales in the Atlantic serve as a reminder of how quickly marine species can respond to climate changes when given the opportunity,” researcher Orla O’Brien stated.

Thus, while this encounter is sensational, it underscores a less positive reality. The ocean, like other ecosystems, is subject to increasingly drastic changes, impacting its species, with human activity being a significant contributor.

Source: New England Aquarium

Condividi su Whatsapp Condividi su Linkedin