June 14, 2021

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Whale That Travelled Halfway Around the World Sets Migration Record

Whale That Travelled Halfway Around the World Sets Migration Record

Between May and July of 2013, a single grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) was spotted off the coast of Namibia. This was odd, as while there have been rare sightings of this species in the Atlantic Ocean, they are usually confined to the northern hemisphere. From a report: It turns out the animal had travelled at least 20,000 kilometres (12,427.4 miles) — halfway around the planet — setting a record for a migration of any mammal, barring humans. Rus Hoelzel at Durham University in the UK and his colleagues used tissue samples collected from the whale’s skin and analysed its DNA to trace its origins.

By comparing it with other grey whale populations, they found that this individual, a male, was probably born to the endangered western North Pacific population, found along the coast of eastern Asia. This means it travelled at least 20,000 kilometres to get to the southern Atlantic. Earth’s circumference is slightly over 40,000 kilometres. “This is the record really for an in-water migration, if you’re assuming that this individual started its life in the north-west Pacific and it found its way to Namibia,” says Hoelzel. “That’s as far as any vertebrate has ever gone in water, as far as we know.” Land dwelling mammals fall far short of this feat — the record is a grey wolf that roamed more than 7000 kilometres in a year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.