Mediterranean gray whale appears 'back from the dead'
Tuesday, May 11 2010 @ 08:30 PM EDT
Contributed by: terrytvgal
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
A gray whale has appeared off the coast of Israel, shocking conservationists.
Gray whales are thought to be extinct across the Atlantic Ocean, so the appearance of an individual within the Mediterranean Sea is a major surprise.
The whale may have inadvertently travelled a huge distance from its natural habitat thousands of kilometres away in the Pacific Ocean.
However, it raises the possibility that gray whales have returned to former haunts in the western hemisphere.
Once, three major populations of gray (also spelt grey) whale existed: in the western and eastern North Pacific Ocean, and in the North Atlantic.
However, the North Atlantic population of gray whale became extinct sometime in the 17th or 18th Century, for reasons that are not clear.
No sightings of the species had been made in the Atlantic Ocean since.That was until a single individual gray whale was sighted off the coast of Herzliya Marina, Israel. On 9 May, researchers from the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Centre (IMMRAC) in Israel went to investigate.
They took photographs to identify the huge animal, which they have since confirmed is a gray whale.
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