A female Humpback whale has nearly doubled the migration record for mammals, traveling an astonishing 9800 kilometers. Researchers with the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalogue project first spotted the whale in a well-known humpback breeding area off the coast of Brazil. They snapped a shot of the unique black and white spotted pattern on her tail fluke as she dived, and assigned her a number: AHWC#1363. Two years later, whale-watchers photographed her fluke again--but this time #1363 was swimming in a breeding area off the east coast of Madagascar, more than 9800 kilometers from Brazil. Her journey breaks the previous long-distance migration record for mammals, which humpback whales also held (more than 5000 kilometers between feeding and breeding grounds), the team will report  online tomorrow in Biology Letters. It's not just the distance that makes #1363's trip remarkable; it is also her sex—female humpbacks aren't often seen wandering solo in search of a mate. "Either this shows great flexibility in the migratory movements of humpback whales, or that sometimes they make very large mistakes," says Phillip Clapham a cetacean expert with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle.
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