Searcher naturalist, Paul Jones, shares this exciting 2020 sighting while aboard Searcher!
On March 17, 2020, while Searcher was just west of Isla Monserrat in the Gulf of California and we were looking for whales, the crew spotted what appeared to be a blue whale at first glance. However, as we got closer, there was considerable disagreement as to what we were looking at. Clearly, this whale had some color and body shape that was indicative of a blue whale. But other characteristics reflected what we have seen in fin whales. As it circled the boat, we were finally able on one pass to see the lower jaw on the right side, which should have been definitive for a fin whale – and it was all dark. So, the mystery whale had us continuing the debate well into the afternoon, past the time when we found three fin whales and two blue whales to follow, and into the night. Because of some good sleuthing in his expansive, digital marine mammal literature database, Tom Jefferson found a paper that led us to believe we had seen a hybrid fin/blue whale. The story that unfolded is told in our recently published scientific paper is amazing – this male is the offspring of a male fin whale and female blue whale and he travels back and forth from Southern California waters to the Gulf of California. Plus, there’s lots more about fin/blue hybrids and their movements between these waterbodies. We encourage you to read on by clicking the link to the paper below.
Sightings and Satellite Tracking of a Blue/Fin Whale Hybrid in its Wintering and Summering Ranges in the Eastern North Pacific
Authors: Jefferson Thomas, Palacios Daniel, Calambokidis John, Baker C. Scott, Hayslip Craig, Jones Paul, Lagerquist Barbara, Jørgensen Morten and Schulman-Janiger Alisa