First Ever Conjoined Twin Gray Whales Discovered off Mexico


A pair of dead conjoined twin whales were discovered off the coast of a Mexico Lagoon on Sunday and are believed to be the first documented case ever reported, according to researchers. Since the conjoined twin whales were deceased, scientists are trying to guess what could have been the most probable cause behind their deaths. It is believed that they were most likely miscarried.

They were found in the Scammon’s Lagoon, which is located in Baja California, a peninsula to the south of San Diego. It is one of at least three breeding grounds for the gray whales, which end up traveling all the way down from Arctic seas.

The whales’ carcass was also only about seven feet long, as opposed to the usual 12 to 18 feet which is seen in newborn gray whales. These facts and other major signs of underdevelopment in major body areas are why scientists think the conjoined twin whales were born dead.

Alisa Janiger, who is an American Cetacean Society researcher, stated that the twin whales were severely undersized. This makes the research team wonder if the possible stillbirth could have also caused the death of the mother whale. If she is alive, her health and location is unknown.

This extremely unusual discovery off Mexico was the very first documented instance of conjoined twins ever noted for gray whales. The calves were thought to be gray whales because that type usually swims to the warm lagoons of Mexico each year in order to give birth. Mother whales give birth during the journey, or when they arrive inside the lagoons. They then nurse the babies for many weeks before starting back on their return journey to the Chukchi and Bering seas.

There have been recorded cases of other types of conjoined whales being discovered before, such as sei, minke and fin whales. There have also been sharks discovered which were also conjoined or connected. This find is the very first on record for the glorious gray whale species.

This trip from the Baja California peninsula down to the lagoons of Mexico is estimated to be around 6,000 miles from the whales’ home. Researchers state that gray whale calves are typically born between the last week of December and the first week or so of January.

The lush lagoons which are located near Baja California’s Pacific coast are very popular with the gray whale mothers. They usually give birth to one calf in the winter season after they have mated.

However, unlike prior sightings of rare whales, the conjoined twin whales were discovered still in the water. They had not washed up on land but sadly the same as the other ones found, they were also dead.

The gray whale mothers swim over thousands of miles in order to give birth in the safe, warm waters of Mexico. The warm lagoons along Baja California’s coast are common spots for gray whale mothers to give birth, although, typically they only have a single calf.

The whale’s body has been collected in order to do further study which may provide insight into the death. Scientists are very interested as these conjoined twin gray whales in Mexico are believed to be the first documented case ever reported.

By Kimberly Ruble


The University Herald

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