A stray gray whale first observed in the French Mediterranean

The basics A gray whale has been sighted in the Mediterranean: an unusual sight as this animal usually prefers warmer water. According to several experts, this animal has lost its way.

Far from the Pacific, a gray whale has been observed for the first time on the coasts of the French Mediterranean in the last few days. We learned this on Sunday from the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

This is a calf, around fifteen months old and 8 meters tall, that was observed in Morocco in early March and in the last few weeks in Italy in Naples, then in Rome and Genoa. Most likely he got lost in the Mediterranean, a sea he is trying to get out of in order to regain his natural habitat in the North Pacific. “A specimen was seen twice in the Mediterranean in 2010, but in Israel and Spain this is a first for our French coasts,” said Adrien Gannier, veterinarian and member of this network, who even observed these young whales on Friday off Bormes-les- Mimosas (south-east France).

An unusual presence

The occurrence of this species of whale in such waters is quite uncommon, with the vast majority of the population living between Baja California and Alaska in summer.

“It is possible that this California-born whale was lost during its first feeding season in the Beaufort Sea and did not return to the Pacific, but crossed the Atlantic before it was caught in the Mediterranean,” explains Adrien Gannier, who is also part of the Cetacean Research Group (Greek) is an association based in Antibes.

The “emaciated” animal

First observed in Antibes, then on Thursday in Mandelieu-La Napoule, in the Alpes-Maritimes, it was seen on Friday in the port of Bormes-les-Mimosas, from where the port authorities managed to send it back to the big ones.

“We then accompanied it on its journey west, leaving it a nautical mile from Cape Bénat,” says Adrien Gannier, who hopes the calf will continue its journey to the Gulf of Lions and then to the Spanish coast before leaving the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and then up the Atlantic. “She seems pretty healthy but emaciated because her feeding method is unsuitable for the Mediterranean,” explains this veterinarian. This animal feeds on invertebrates found in muddy sand, which is rare in the region.

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