A series of western gray whales were tagged by scientists and analyzed to determine how far they actually travel when they migrate. The findings were some of the most impressive information that has ever been collected in the world of mammals and their migration patterns. Impressively, the whale swam 13,987 miles, breaking all previous records that existed for mammal migration. Even more impressively, the data found that the mammals didn’t even stop to eat while swimming from Russia to Mexico, and then traveling back again – shocking the science community even more.
Scientists believe that the journey took upwards of five and a half months. While that isn’t particularly long given the distance that is being covered, it’s impressive because it’s a continuous journey that isn’t stopped, paused, or restarted at any point. The whale simply started it – and completed it without batting an eye at the distance or time. That though has cleared the record books for this particular gray whale to take center stage as the most advanced migrator in the world.
Bruce Mate, of Oregon State University pointed out that, “These whales have the same body temperature as you and I, so they are obliged to make these big journeys to get to warmer or cooler waters. But this is a record.” However, it isn’t just the journey itself that’s impressive, he went on to point out that, “We do not know how she did it but the fact that she took different routes each way means we have to accept that these whales are very accomplished navigators.”
The science community seems to share that voice of shock and dismay over the notion of this whale not just making a massively long journey in a short period of time, but also doing so with any route it sees fit in the moment. While scientists will now be poised to do more research on the whales to understand what makes them change course, or take certain routes during their migration than others – it’s an impressive run that really can’t be compared to given the degree of difficulty, combined with the amount of space that is being covered. The conditions that the endangered animal experiences are likely things that mammals in the ocean rarely experience, but this particular one has done well unanimously throughout its test.