Hemisphere minke whales change

They live on opposite ends of the planet, but love is stronger: DNA whales caught by Norwegian hunters, showed that it is a hybrid, produced by members of the light and the northern Antarctic species of minke whales.

Areas of seasonal migration of these species are separated by thousands of kilometers.

Northern minke whales in the spring rush to the North Pole and in the summer splashing at the edge of the Arctic ice, and autumn come to the shore to near the equator, where they spend the winter. Their Antarctic cousins moved in a similar way, depending on the season. As in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and summer and winter are opposite, these species are never found.

At least until now, scientists thought that does not occur.

The hunt for minke whales has been widespread since the 1930's. Several countries, including Greenland, Norway and Japan, whaling practiced today. Shortly after the Norwegians in 1993 resumed commercial whaling after a brief stay in the country was a mandatory DNA test catches, to make sure that it is sourced legally.

Geneticist Kevin Glover of the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen (Norway) just studied the data from these analyzes, when he found the information about the hybrid, caught in 2007 in the north-east Atlantic. Then a colleague told him that in 1996, the stories of whalers, was caught strange person, not having the breast fins white spot of northern minke whales. This prompted scientists to raise the archives for 1996 and find out that in the North Atlantic and really lived a real Antarctic whale.

Thus, a strong evidence in favor of the fact that different types of minke whales can change the hemisphere and even mate. But was the birth of the hybrid fluke — or the beginning of a new trend? Kevin Glover does not know the answer to this question, but his colleague Niels Eyena is an interesting hypothesis.

Japanese studies have shown that the number of minke whales in the Southern Hemisphere has decreased significantly between 1980 and 1990. During this period, dramatically reduced the number of krill — the main food of Antarctic minke whales. In fact, the whales were on the brink of malnutrition, and might encourage them to go in search of more hospitable waters.

The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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