Washington, March 5 (ANI): A newborn blue whale has been captured on camera for the first time, and is believed to be the first proof that a blue whale hot spot in the Pacific Ocean is a birthing ground for the endangered species.
During a January 2008 expedition to the "Dome", a warm-water region off Costa Rica that draws blue whales from hundreds of miles away, a research team had begun to lose hope of finding a calf.
Then, two telltale spouts began erupting at the sea surface.
According to a report in the National Geographic Magazine, one of the spouts did turn out to be that of a calf, which approached the research boat-surprising the scientists, given blue whale mothers' protective reputations.
A photographer and videographer dived in and soon had the visual evidence needed: fetal folds establishing the whale as a newborn blue.
By comparing new and old photos of blue whale spot patterns, which can be as distinct, in their way, as human fingerprints, expedition member John Calambokidis later identified the Dome mother as a summer resident of California's Channel Islands.
The researchers speculate that mother and baby returned to the islands, rich with krill, but fraught with danger from increasing shipping traffic.
The destinations of other whales at the Dome remain a mystery-unfortunately for conservationists looking to safeguard blue whale migration routes.
The Dome's significance to blue whale breeding, though, is no longer in question.
"We're quite confident now that this is one of the very, very important areas for blue whales in the entire world," Mate said.
Averaging 25 feet (7.6 meters) long at birth, blue whale babies nurse for about seven months until they double in size.
Gaining about 200 pounds (90 kilograms) a day, they are the biggest babies ever known to have roamed the Earth. (ANI)