BAR HARBOR, Maine, Oct. 12 (UPI) — A female humpback whale has traveled a quarter of the way around the world, the longest documented movement by a mammal, U.S. researchers say.
The female whale was spotted and photographed at its regular breeding ground in Brazil, and was subsequently spotted off the coast of Madagascar, more than 6,000 miles away, the BBC reported Tuesday.
The distance is twice what the whales usually cover migrating to new breeding grounds.
Researchers say the whale may have made the voyage in two separate journeys.
“If I had to guess, I’d say this animal did a normal migration to the Antarctic [to feed] and went to Madagascar from there,” Peter Stevick from the College of the Atlantic in Maine said. “If I were to draw a track for it, it would be from Brazil to the Southern Ocean and from there into the Indian Ocean.”
Researchers identified the whale from photographs taken of its fluke. Each humpback whale has markings on the pale underside of its fluke that are unique, like fingerprints.
The journey would have taken the whale at least several weeks and so far the scientists have only the photographs of the two sightings.
“But we gather these research photographs from all over the globe,” Stevick said. “So we’re hopeful we will see this animal again, or see other animals doing related things.”
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