Rare western gray whale reaches Oregon coast

first_imgANCHORAGE, Alaska — A type of whale that spends summers off Russia has made its way to Oregon coastal waters as part of a journey being tracked by scientists to better understand the behavior of the highly endangered animals.Researchers attached a satellite tag to a 13-year-old, male western Pacific gray whale known as Flex on Oct. 4. The whale moved east across the Bering Sea and south through the Aleutian Islands into the Gulf of Alaska.On Jan. 27, it was detected about 400 miles off the coast of British Columbia.Researchers lost the signal and feared the satellite tag had fallen off but picked it up five days later, said Bruce Mate, director of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, which is working on the tracking project with the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences.“It appears to have been because of bad weather,” Mate said Monday of the lapse.Satellite signals confirmed the location of the whale 280 miles west of Vancouver Island. It moved from deep water off the continental shelf to shallow water off the northwest tip of Washington.The whale kept swimming south at just more than 4 mph and on Monday was detected south of Lincoln City, Ore.“That’s about 15 miles north of my laboratory at the Hatfield Marine Science Center,” Mate said, noting the irony of having to travel to Russia last year to tag the whale only to have it show up nearly at his doorstep.last_img read more