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18 July, 2024
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Gray whale spotted off Nantucket Coast after 200 years

Scientists stunned by rare gray whale sighting


Scientists from the New England Aquarium (NEA) made an extraordinary discovery while flying near Nantucket on Friday. They spotted a gray whale, a species rarely seen in the Atlantic Ocean for over 200 years.

As Fox News reports, the NEA team was on an aerial survey about 30 miles south of Nantucket when they noticed the unusual whale. They circled the area for 45 minutes, capturing photos and confirming it was indeed a gray whale.

Orla O’Brien, an associate research scientist at NEA, expressed disbelief at the sighting. "It seemed crazy," she said. O’Brien, who has been conducting aerial surveys for 13 years, was amazed by the whale's presence.

Accompanied by Research Technician Kat Laemmle, O’Brien shared photos of the whale. Laemmle described the experience as wild and exciting, considering the rarity of the sighting.

Gray whales, typically found in the North Pacific, lack a dorsal fin and feature mottled gray and white skin with a dorsal hump. Despite disappearing from the Atlantic centuries ago, recent observations hint at their return. This particular whale spotted near Nantucket is believed to be the same one seen off Florida in December.

Scientists attribute these sightings to climate change, as rising temperatures have led to less ice in the Northwest Passage. This allows gray whales to explore areas they haven't visited in centuries.

O’Brien emphasized the dynamic nature of marine ecosystems, stating, "These sightings of gray whales in the Atlantic serve as a reminder of how quickly marine species respond to climate change, given the chance."

[With information sourced from Fox News]

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