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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Gray Whale Spotted in the Atlantic

Gray Whale

Gerald Corsi from Getty Images Signature

The New England Aquarium reported an aerial sighting of a gray whale 30 miles off the coast of Nantucket Island. Gray whales, which lack dorsal fins, have not been seen in the Atlantic Ocean for more than 200 years, having been hunted out of existence. This is the fifth sighting in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters in the last 15 years. Scientists believe that the melting of Arctic ice caused by global warning may be at play.

According to the aquarium, “The Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific through the Arctic Ocean in Canada, has regularly been ice-free in the summertime in recent years, partly due to rising global temperatures.” Without the sea ice that usually limits the range of gray whales, they can “potentially travel the Passage in the summer, something that wouldn’t have been possible in the previous century.”

Orla O’Brien, an associate research scientist in the aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, said, “These sightings of gray whales in the Atlantic serve as a reminder of how quickly marine species respond to climate change, given the chance." 

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