On the days of March 6, March 10 and March 14 of this year Michael's research team encountered this amazing whale down in the Sea of Cortez. They immediately thought it could be a hybrid blue/fin whale as however rare these hybrids are, they are known with genetic certainty to exist.
Michael's photos of the Fin/Blue hybrid
They were unable even after great effort to obtain skin samples (for genetic testing) as this individual did not slough off any skin as many large whales do when diving. This whales dorsal fin is simply put bizarre, and although it looks mostly like a fin whale it pulls it fluke high into the air when it dives which is almost unheard of for a fin whale, but not uncommon for a blue whale.
We left it at that and then 2 days ago received this news from our colleague down in Mexico about a whale sighting off Santa Barbara, Calif. Alas not only is there no question that it is the same individual (yes we can marvel at the long over 100 nautical mile swim he or she made since we had see it) but another biologist from Calif. saw the posting from 2 days ago and posted that they had also recognized this individual and taken of biopsy sample from it a number of years ago. They confirmed that it is as far as we know the only known blue/fin whale hybrid on the west coast of North America.
So it is a great story, lots of people are excited in Mexico, in California, and even here in North Carolina. Collaboration is truly a wonderful thing and yes the world needs more of it, as with collaboration we all learn so much more!!