Gray Whale now off of Barcelona

A few weeks ago a Gray Whale was reported off of Israel. See here. What is presumably the same individual was recently seen just outside Barcelona Harbour. Incredible. One theory is that it crossed from the Pacific to the Atlantic last summer because of the lack of ice and is now following the west european coast rather than the western US.
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On 30th May 2012, at 16:30h an unusual sighting of a gray whale in front of the Barcelona harbour (41º20’79’’ N Long 2º11’72’’E ) was confirmed. The whale was consistently heading south at slow pace. The sighting was confirmed by members of SUBMON, and NGO dedicated to develop studies related to the conservation and assessment of marine habitats. Pictures from this sighting were compared by the ones taken by Aviad Scheinin from IMMRAC on May 8th 2010 in Israel waters (distributed in MARMAM) by Manuel Castellote at the National Marine Mammal Lab (AFSC-NMFS-NOAA) confirming the matching, indicating that the same individual travelled from Israel to Spain in 23 days.

This is the first time that a gray whale is sighted in the western basin of the Mediterranean Sea and just the second time that’s it is reported in the whole basin. Taking into account the relevance of this sighting, SUBMON is coordinating the effort to re-sight the whale in Spanish waters in order to assess his health condition, reduce collision risks with vessels and obtain a biopsy sample of this individual to determine its population identity.

Jon

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