Four orcas that were spotted by Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula between 2014 and 2017 have now turned up in Genoa, Italy. This is the first ever record of orcas migrating between Iceland and Italy and is believed to be one of the longest migration routes ever recorded in the world at over 5,200km (3,230mi). RÚV reported first.
Orca groups stick together
The four whales, named SN113, SN114, SN115, and SN116, were first spotted in 2014 by researchers from the organisation Orca Guardians Iceland, which began identifying and cataloguing orcas off the coast of Snæfellsnes in January of that year. The group of four was spotted first in June 2014, visiting the area more regularly the following year, with six recorded sightings. They were then spotted again in 2016.
“In West Iceland, it is no news to us that group constellations are stable over the years and the same groups are seen in the same area at roughly the same time of year,” a post on the group’s Facebook page reads.
Newborn calf did not survive
In 2017, the group showed up again with a newborn calf. Now, two and a half years later, they have been identified in the harbour of Genoa, Italy. Researchers were able to identify the four Orcas thanks to detailed images of various features, including fins and eye patches.
There is concern regarding the health of the whales, who appear to have lost weight since they were first spotted in the harbour in Genoa. The calf seen in 2017 was reportedly spotted in Genoa as well but has since died. Experts are meeting with authorities in the region to see how the whales can be helped.