SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The whale migration record has been broken this year by a female western gray whale, according to researchers from the U.S. and Russia. The previous record, held by a humpback whale at 10,000 miles, was broken by 9-year-old, Vavara who traveled 14,000 miles going from Russia to Mexico and back again.
Dr. Jennifer Scarlett from the San Francisco SPCA says this is intriguing because western gray whales are critically endangered with about only 150 left in the wild. They were recently thought to be extinct. It’s also interesting because Vavara seemed to be migrating with the eastern gray whale.
Whales where previously thought to migrate in a loop; Vavara crossed the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the length of North America to get down to the calving lagoons in Baja, California in Mexico.
“What’s interesting is she didn’t swim the same path back and forth. It was thought that whales would hug the shoreline, but she showed a very complex navigation system to get back and forth,” said Scarlett.