Scientists in Mexico’s Scammon’s Lagoon have discovered possibly the first ever case of Siamese twin gray whales. Although known to occur in other species, notably fin, sei and minke whales, never before have conjoined twins been documented for gray whales. Apparently the calves were severely underdeveloped – only approximately 7ft long as opposed to the the normal 12 – 16ft for the average newborn gray whale calf – and they were most likely miscarried. Unfortunately the mother was nowhere to be seen and there is concern that the birth may have had adverse effects on her health. (Once you see the photos I’m sure you’ll agree – there is no chance for a cesarean section in the ocean so it would have been a painful ordeal for the mother!)
At this time of year, gray whales are arriving in Scammon’s Lagoon and other lagoons along the Baja California peninsula, after undertaking a mammoth 6,000-mile journey from the cold Arctic waters in the north. Typically, they give birth during the southbound journey, or once they’ve arrived in the lagoons. They’ll then stay in the warm, quiet waters for several weeks, nursing their calves and resting before embarking on the return journey, back to their feeding grounds in the Arctic.
One little calf who was luckier than the conjoined twins and is currently en route to one of Mexico’s lagoons is baby Floppy, a gray whale calf photographed off of Redondo Beach in California within one hour of being born. Researchers noted the floppy fins (hence the name), the pits in its face and foetal folds in its head and estimated that it was a very new newborn!!