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Where is Wally, the gray whale lost in the Mediterranean?

Wally, this is how the gray whale, which has been circling the Mediterranean for just over a month, has been baptized. The first time she was seen was on April 4 in Algeria and the last, this week in Ibiza. Before it has passed through several areas of the Spanish coast: Barcelona, ​​Castellón, Cullera, Alicante … Before it was also seen in several Italian and French cities and it is expected that, on its way out of the Mediterranean, it will skirt the Spanish coasts.

Along Wally’s route, the next stop that the experts at the Valencia Oceanogràfic were waiting for was Murcia. “We notified our colleagues from Murcia when he was in Alicante,” explains José Luis Crespo, head of the Oceanogràfic conservation area, to Hypertextual. However, for an unknown reason, the gray whale “has receded” on its way and has already been seen in Ibiza.

We also do not know how exactly it got to the Mediterranean, most likely it was lost. And it is that gray whales usually live in the North Pacific. “200 or 300 years ago there was another area with gray whales in the Atlantic,” says Crespo. These whales and those of the North Pacific were genetically differentiated. However, it is believed that they disappeared. «We cannot rule out that there are still copies left; but Wally is more likely to come from the North Pacific ». Since there we do know that there are around 20,000 copies.

Gray whales, Crespo explains from the other end of the phone, feed in Alaska and then migrate to the lower California area in Mexico. There they breed and raise their little whales. However, Wally has ended up swimming in the Mediterranean.

Is Wally sick?

The gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) can measure up to 15 meters and weigh 20 tons. In this case, Wally is about eight meters long and experts estimate that he is around 15 months old. And even, seems to be a little thinner than it should. It should weigh about 8 tons, but they estimate that its weight can be around 5 or 6 tons. This can be due to two problems. On the one hand, Crespo indicates, that the whale is not feeding well. Or, on the other hand, that she is ill.

Wally is thinner than normal, it could be because she is not eating well or is sick

And, as we know, whales are filter feeders. They remove the mud with their snouts and breathe in whatever the dust cloud raises. This can include crustaceans like krill. Although it is also true that some also feed on small schools of fish. But We “don’t know” if poor Wally is eating properly. What Crespo and the rest of the experts have seen throughout their journey through the Mediterranean is that he has lost weight: «Wally has been observed through drones to check the fat on the sides of the spine, in the area of the neck… And it is very thin ». This could be a sign of either of the two options above.

“We hope it leaves the Mediterranean, but it could die before getting it,” says the expert. And although we would be very sorry after continuing all its way along our coasts, unfortunately it would fall within the “normal mortality” of whales.

Exit the Mediterranean to survive

Wally’s journey is not over yet. It seemed that I just had to continue south out of Alicante and get to Murcia. And it is that this little gray whale could already be on its way out of the Mediterranean, but it could not be. At least for the moment. But, Can anything be done to help her out?

“It’s very complex,” says Crespo from the other end of the phone. “What we can do at the moment is to watch where it appears and notify the places it could visit next,” he says. And it is also very important to know where you can go to warn the boats in the area and to be careful. In addition to the fact that cetaceans are protected in Spain by Royal Decree 1727/2007 That is the most that can be done for Wally at this time.

Do not disturb wally

In order not to upset Wally, you have to follow a series of recommendations. To begin, the first thing is to notify 112 or the Coast Guard so they know where this gray whale is currently. And later, if we are very close to it or even above it, leave the area to avoid disturbing the whale or producing changes in its behavior.

You have to stay about 300 meters away around the whale. Above all, you have to be very careful and not stand above, in front of or behind it. Therefore, it is recommended to leave that area as soon as possible. On the sides you also have to leave a minimum safety distance of 60 meters, although it is recommended to also stay at 300 meters so as not to disturb Wally. However, it is always best to get as far away from her as possible. As much for your sake as for ours.

Unfortunately, we cannot help this gray whale out of the Mediterranean; but yes we can navigate carefully and keep safe distances. And if, in addition, we become a little aware of the importance of protecting biodiversity and ecosystems thanks to Wally, much better.

Let’s hope the poor whale can get out of and resume its long journey home. Meanwhile, let’s observe it from afar, it is a very strange event to see.

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