Abstract Living gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are key consumers in benthic communities of the North Pacific Ocean. Gray whales, however, also inhabited the North Atlantic Ocean until recent historical times (~ 1600 AD), leaving open questions about their historical ecology in nearshore communities of this basin. Here we report the discovery of fossil remains from two individual gray whales recovered from underwater excavations at separate localities of JY Reef, an offshore reef situated approximately 32 kilometers (km) offshore of St. Catherine's Island, Georgia, U.S.A. Both mandibles are diagnostic to the living Eschrichtius robustus. Radiometric dating of shells from JY Reef suggests an approximate age range of these two specimens between 42 to 30 thousand years before present (ka). Morphological measurements of the preserved elements indicate that both of the mandibles likely belonged to immature and possibly yearling individuals. Collectively, these findings are among the oldest occurrences of gray whales in the North Atlantic basin, and their presence at temperate latitudes provides limited support for the hypothesis that Atlantic gray whales used a southerly breeding area at the end of a migratory pathway, by analog with lagoonal breeding environments of Baja California, Mexico, for the extant California gray whales, and the breeding areas for extant North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) off the Georgia coast today. Stronger support for this latter contention may stem from future fossil discoveries in the region, as well as ancillary lines of evidence, such as the remains of species-specific ectoparasites and/or ancient DNA (aDNA).
Point Barrow, 15-20 Miles East Of Barrow, About 450 M Off Plover Point., Alaska, United States, North America, Arctic Ocean
7 Oct 1988
First discovered 7 october in two breathing holes about 15 x 30 feet. lengths estimated at 25, 27 and 35 feet. smallest whale disappeared, presumed dead on 21 october. after two weeks of hole cutting, whales entered large lead on 28 october. Bill Hess has stary and photographs in his book.
Hess, B. (2003 ). Gift of the Whale: The Inupiat Bowhead Hunt, A Sacred Tradition Sasquatch Books. pp. 110-137.