New Hybrid Whale Discovered in Arctic

11:30:14 PM, Friday, February 04, 2011

“They may be polar opposites, but something is attracting two species of minke whales, producing at least one hybrid offspring, a new study says.

A cross between an Antarctic minke whale and a northern minke whale was recently discovered during a DNA analysis of whales caught by Norwegian hunters.

Normally the two whale species—both of which can reach 35 feet (11 meters) in length—undertake seasonal migrations that separate them by many miles of ocean.

Northern minkes head toward the North Pole in spring and ply waters up to the edge of Arctic ice during the summer. In autumn these whales head south, nearly as far as the Equator, to spend the winter.

Antarctic whales follow a similar pattern, moving between Antarctic ice and warmer mid-latitudes with the seasons.

But because the two hemispheres' seasons are opposite, the minke species don't share near-equatorial waters at the same time. Thus, they were never thought to meet—until now…”

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