Updated: January 23, 2012
Southern California marine mammal enthusiasts should note that a special whale named Varvara will be passing through local waters today and Friday.
The 8-year-old female gray whale, sporting a satellite tag that reveals her position, is special because she has swum all the way from Sakhalin Island in the western North Pacific off Russia, providing scientists with more evidence that Western Pacific gray whales may not be as distinct from Eastern Pacific gray whales as previously believed.
Varvara hails from a critically endangered population of perhaps 130 Western Pacific gray whales, with very few breeding-age females. There are about 20,000 Eastern Pacific gray whales, famous for their annual 10,000-mile round-trip migration from the Bering and Beaufort seas to and from winter breeding areas in lagoons along the Baja California coastline.
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