Carl Zimmer in his excellent blog, The Loom:
In May 2010, a whale showed up on the wrong side of the world.
A team of marine biologists was conducting a survey off the coast of Israel when they spotted it. At first they thought it was a sperm whale. But each time the animal surfaced, the more clearly they could see that it had the wrong anatomy. When they got back on land, they looked closely at the photographs they had taken and realized, to their shock, that it was a gray whale. This species is a common sight off the coast of California, but biologists had never seen one outside of the Pacific before.
Aviad Scheinin, one of the marine biologists on the survey, posted the news on the web. “Nice Photoshopping,” someone replied.
Three weeks later, Scheinin got one more bit of news about the whale. It was photographed off the coast of Spain, having traveled 1864 miles. Then it disappeared.
After three years, a second gray whale appeared off the coast of Namibia in 2013. Comparing photographs, scientists could see that it was a different animal than the one that visited Israel. After lingering along the coast of Namibia for a month, the whale vanished.
These two sightings have left whale experts startled. In an interview with theOrange County Register, one scientists compared the feeling to walking down a street in California and seeing a giraffe.
But according to a new study, these two whales may be a hint of the new normal. Gray whales may be poised to move into the Atlantic, because we’re opening a path for them through the Arctic. But it’s not an unprecedented invasion. To some extent, it’s a case of history repeating itself.