Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

A gray whale, a species extinct since 300 years old, was sighted in the Atlantic Ocean

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This gray whale was observed off the coast of Massachusetts. This is a rare event since the whale normally lives in the Pacific Ocean.

Radio-Canada

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Scientists barely have any believed their eyes: They recently spotted a gray whale off the coast of Massachusetts. If this observation is so surprising, it is because this species has disappeared from the Atlantic Ocean for 300 years.

Orla O'Brien and her colleague Kate Laemmle, both scientists at the New England Aquarium in Boston, were conducting an aerial census of species last week. They thought they would see North Atlantic right whales, humpback whales and rorquals.

But when they set their eyes on a specimen in In particular, these characteristics did not correspond to any of these species.

When she came to the surface again, we were able to take better photos. It was hard to believe what we were seeing, explains Orla O'Brien.

Incredulous, she turns to her colleague and says I don't even want to say out loud what I think we see because I don't think you'll believe me.

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Kate Laemmle looks at the photo and whispers gray whale.

After that, we were both really excited because it's a weird, crazy, unique experience.

Their astonishment can be explained simply: gray whales have disappeared from the Atlantic Ocean since the 17th century. However, a population still exists in the North Pacific.

Their extinction in the Atlantic is due to natural decline and whaling, according to the scientist.

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Gray whales live in the Pacific Ocean. They migrate between Mexico and Alaska and eat crustaceans along the ocean floor.

For researchers, the presence of this whale in the Atlantic is partly attributable to climate change.

Gray whales feed during the summer off the coast of Alaska. In the past, the Northwest Passage in the Arctic Ocean was stuck in ice, but with global warming, this is no longer systematic.

Passages may have opened and allowed the whale to cross, probably accidentally, and it ended up in the wrong ocean, says Orla O'Brien.

In the past 15 years, there have been other reports of gray whales in the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, off Namibia, and recently near Florida. According to the scientist, the latter could be the same whale as the one she saw.

According to Orla O'Brien, it is unlikely that the gray whales will return to the Atlantic permanently in the near future, but she does not exclude that this could happen in the long term, in several centuries.

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Orla O'Brien is one of the two scientists of the New England Aquarium who observed a gray whale.

For a population to become established, it takes much more than one or two whales, she continues.

For O'Brien, this sighting is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it's also a reminder that things are changing globally and what that means for animals in the oceans.

D&# x27;after a report by SamFarley, CBC

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