Mogul the right whale's appearance off Iceland puzzles scientist

While it has happened before, seeing an Atlantic right whale swimming in waters off of Iceland is still rare.

But an Icelandic whale-watching crew spotted the right whale named Mogul three times this week, leaving a research scientist wondering why the animal ventured so far from its normal haunts along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States.

Philip Hamilton, a research scientist for the Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, said seeing a whale there is so rare it has only been noted five times since 1992 in the centre’s database. 

Hamilton, who has been studying the North Atlantic right whale since 1986, said three different whales were spotted those five times. 

“Two of them were reproductive females who we rarely see. We think there are some right whales who use other habitats [not] close to the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada.” 

Doesn’t fit the profile

Hamilton said he thinks some North Atlantic right whales might be going to Iceland routinely, but the one seen by the whale-watching crew doesn’t fit the profile. 

“He’s a 10-year old male we’ve been following quite closely since he was born,” he said. “He’s been seen every year, many times in many habitats and all of them are quite close to shore. 

“So, he really seems to be doing something different by being up there.” 

Mogul was born in 2008 to a whale named Slalom, has at least four siblings and also four nieces and nephews and was first seen off the southeast of the U.S., where most of the reproductive females are seen.

Since then, the whale has been seen in the Bay of Fundy and off Massachusetts. 

“So that’s his normal haunts,” said Hamilton, adding even though the right whales swim slowly, they can cover long distances.  

“Recently, right whales have had to go further distances to find food because many of their usual feeding habitats have not been up to par.” 

Things are changing

Hamilton said the ocean is changing and right whales have to go farther to find good feeding grounds. 

“How he managed to find his way up there, who knows. We know the female right whales actually show their calves good places to go, but his mom has been a very coastal mom throughout her life, so how he found his way is a whole other question.” 

A whale-watching crew spotted a North Atlantic right whale named Mogul three times off the coast of Iceland, far from its usual feeding grounds. (Lisa Conger/Northeast Fisheries Science Center under NOAA Permit #17355)Hamilton said he thinks this is an indication that things are changing.

“The change in his sighting profiles suggest that it is a real change in behaviour.” 

An Icelandic whale watching crew came across a North Atlantic Right Whale. It’s not unheard of to see the endangered species in the area. But it’s rare. And Philip Hamilton, a research scientist with the New England Aquarium Center for Ocean Life, says this particular whale has roots in the Bay of Fundy. 7:13

Researchers studying the endangered species have numbered all of the whales and named some of them. Photographs from sightings, along with related information, go into the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog as a resource for researchers.

Tracking the majority of the population of North Atlantic right whales, and where they feed and congregate, is becoming a problem in the last eight years, Hamilton said.

There are more than 100 right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the only concentration of right whales they know of Hamilton said. 

“There are about 450 right whales left, so that leaves 350 unaccounted for. So it’s a large chunk of the population that we’re not able to track at the moment.” 

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More flour brands added to Robin Hood national flour recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has added more brands of flour and flour products to the national recall it issued April 4 over fears of E. coli contamination.

The initial recall issued on March 28 applied only to Robin Hood flour sold in four provinces in Western Canada. This is the second time more brands have been added to the recall list.

The items were identified during its ongoing food safety investigation.

The release says Ardent Mills is recalling various brands of flour and flour products due to possible E. coli O121 contamination.

Ardent Mills has locations in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan. 

The recalled products include: : 

Creative Baker All Purpose Flour, 10 kg. Production code 6 300 SK with best before date of Oct. 26, 2017. UPC 6 300 SK 6 28622 10180 8.  

Robin Hood Best for Blending Flour, 2.5 kg. Production code 6 307 548 with best before date of Feb. 2, 2018 is being recalled. UPC 0 59000 01534 7.

Robin Hood Best for Blending Flour, 2.5 kg. Production code 6 308 548 with best before date of Feb. 3, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01534 7.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Unbleached, 5 kg. Production code 6 300 548 with best before date of April 26, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01685 6.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original, 5 kg. Production code 6 300 548 with best before date of April 26, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01654 2. 

Robin Hood Bread and Roll Mix Homestyle White, 1.36 kg. Production code 6 300 548 with best before date of Aug. 26, 2017. UPC 0 59000 00238 5.

Robin Hood Best for Blending Flour, 2.5 kg. Production code 6 298 548 with best before date of Jan. 24, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01534 7. 

Robin Hood Best for Blending Flour, 2.5 kg. Production code 6 299 548 with best before Jan. 25, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01534 7. 

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Unbleached, 5 kg. Production code 6 299 548 with best before date of April 25, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01685 6. 

Robin Hood Best for Bread Flour Homestyle White, 5 kg. Production code 6 299 548 with best before April 25, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01519 4. 

Robin Hood Bread and Roll Mix Homestyle White, 1.36 kg. Production code 6 299 548 with best before date of Aug. 25, 2017. UPC 0 59000 00238 5.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original, 5 kg. Production code of 6 301 548 with best before date of April 27, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01654 2. 

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Unbleached, 5 kg. Production code of 6 301 548 with best before date of April 27, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01685 6.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original, 10 kg. Production code of 6 302 548 with best before date of April 28, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01652 8.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original, 5 kg. Production code of 6 302 548 with best before date of April 28, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01654 2.

Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Unbleached, 5 kg. Production code of 6 303 548 with best before date of April 28, 2018. UPC 0 59000 01685 6.

CFIA said consumers should not consume the recalled products.

A class-action lawsuit has been launched. 

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