Varvara, a western gray whale, is the new record holder as the mammal with the longest migration period.
According to the researchers who studied it, the gray whale traveled from Russia to Mexico and back, swimming a total of 13,988 miles (22,511 km) in 172 days.
Prior to this, the title was held by a humpback whale that migrated for approximately 10,190 miles.
The experts involved in the new research said that Varvara, which is the equivalent of Barbara in Russian, broke the record by swimming for so many miles in such a short period of time.
The researchers tagged the gray whales with satellites and monitored them while living off Sakhalin Island in Russia.
This is the place where the whales come to feed every year.
Of all the tagged whales, Varvara was the only one that was monitored for the whole migration period because its tag remained intact.
Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and one of the lead researchers involved in the study, explained that western gray whales are endangered marine mammals and were once though extinct.
Prior to this study, the researchers didn’t know much about the migratory behavior of this species of whales.
Some believed that the gray whales migrated in a loop starting in Russia and swimming all the way to the South China Sea.
However, the new study revealed that Varvara the gray whale migrated from Russia all the way to Mexico.
Mate wrote in his report that Varvara crossed the Bering Sea, swam through the Gulf of Alaska and North America in order to reach the Baja breeding calf lagoons. These lagoons are used by animals that live in the eastern north Pacific, Mate added.
The researchers were intrigued by some aspects of the gray whale’s record-breaking journey.
For example, according to the researchers, the whale did not follow the same route swimming back. This means that Varvara knew the way and did not need to orient herself using the coast.
The researchers detailed the findings in a new study published online in the journal Biology Letters.
Image Source: inquisitr