Western Gray Whales Surprise Scientific Community by Travelling the World

Whale scientists had long thought that endangered western gray whales only migrated along coasts.  They were wrong. Satellite-tagged travels of the female Varvara and other monitored migrations demonstrate that grays are not restricted to coastal travel but can cross oceans and seas.

Varvara, who started out off Sakhalin Island in September 2011, swam to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Other grey whales have been spotted off Israel’s Herzliya Marina; near Barcelona, Spain; and in the far north Atlantic.

Scientists attending the February 2012 Western Grey Whale Advisory Panel meeting in Geneva expressed their happy surprise at the newly discovered mobility of gray whales.  For example, panel member Randall Reeves said, “It’s a scientific event- a big one.”  Varvara’s travels have “demolished conventional wisdom.”

These unexpected migrations suggest that grey whales have far more options than was long assumed.  More options mean more chances for survival, and that’s good news.

● Click here to read an excellent Kansas City Star article about grey whale travels



● Click here for Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel website


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