JERUSALEM—The gray whale, thought to be extinct from the Atlantic Ocean for 200 years, has been sighted off the coast of Israel.
On May 8, the whale was seen off the coast near Herzliya in Tel Aviv by members of a local yacht club traveling in two yachts. After people on one yacht sighted the whale, a second yacht with researchers from the Israel Marine Mammal Research & Assistance Centre (IMMRAC) spotted it as well.
At the time it was thought to be a sighting of a sperm whale, as no gray whale sightings have been made in the region for two centuries. IMMRAC researchers followed the whale for an hour and photographed it.
IMMRAC is sponsored through the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel. It is a volunteer organization that includes scientists, students, veterinarians and members of the general public. Due to a lack of funding, members often ride with boats that are already going out to sea.
On May 9, the photographs were circulated among IMMRAC scientists, who realized it was a Gray whale. They gender of the animal is unknown.