28 January 2011
Posted in NatureWorks
National Geographic reported that a new hybrid of minke whale was discovered in the Arctic. The whale DNA indicated that it was a hybrid of two different types of minke whale, Antarctic and Northern. This was very surprising to scientists because these two different type of whales also have two very different migratory patterns that keep them separated my many miles at all times of the year, or so they thought. The DNA of this hybrid whale, caught in the northeastern Atlantic in 2007, proves that at least once these two types of whales came together and were able to breed.
So, why would these two whales even be relatively close to one another when they have such different migratory patterns? The answer may have something to do with a drop in the supply of krill, the tiny crustacean that fuels the Antarctic food chain. Japanese studies show that the drop in krill, in the 1980's-1990's, coincided with a drop in Antarctica minke in the Southern Hemisphere. Scientist speculate that as the food supply decreased whales may have gone scouting for food and found their way to the Arctic Circle and the northern minkes. Scientists now have some work on their hands to find out if this whale was a stroke of luck or a new tendency in the animal kingdom.