Stray gray whale first seen in the French Mediterranean

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Strayed far from the Pacific, a gray whale was observed for the first time in recent days along the coasts of the French Mediterranean, we learned on Sunday from the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

It is about a calf, about fifteen months old and measuring 8 meters, which had already been observed in Morocco in early March and in Italy in recent weeks, in Naples, then Rome and Genoa. In all likelihood, he got lost in the Mediterranean, a sea he is trying to get out of to regain his natural habitat located in the North Pacific.

“A specimen had already been observed in 2010 in the Mediterranean, on two occasions, but in Israel and Spain, this is a first for our French coasts,” said Adrien Gannier, veterinarian and member of this network, who himself even observed this young whale on Friday off Bormes-les-Mimosas (south-eastern France).

The presence of this species of whale in such waters is quite unusual, as the vast majority of its population lives between Baja California in winter and Alaska in summer.

“It is possible that this whale, born in California, got lost in the Beaufort Sea during its first feeding season and that instead of coming down to the Pacific, it crossed the Atlantic before finding itself trapped in the Mediterranean. », Explains Adrien Gannier, who is also part of the Cetacean Research Group (Greek), an association based in Antibes.

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

“We then accompanied it on its journey to the west and left it one nautical mile from Cape Bénat,” says Adrien Gannier, who hopes that the calf will continue its journey towards the Gulf of Lions then the Spanish coast before exiting. from the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and then up the Atlantic.

“She seems in fairly good health, but thin, because her feeding method is not suitable for the Mediterranean”, explains this veterinarian. This animal feeds on invertebrates present in muddy sand, which is rare in the region.