It was only after returning to shore and closely examining the photographs they had taken that the researchers allowed themselves to acknowledge that what they had seen was, in fact, a gray whale.
There was only one problem.
There are no gray whales off Israel.
There are no gray whales in the Mediterranean.
There are, in fact, no gray whales in the Atlantic
The prevailing hypothesis is this whale got lost in the Northwest Passage and confused the
east west coast of Europe with the east west coast of North America. (oops)
Added Dr. Aviad Scheinin of IMMRAC:
Due to the climate changes and the melting of the ice in the Northwest Passage especially during the years 2007-8, a corridor could have been created in the summer, enabling the whale to travel through it to the North Atlantic. In autumn, it may have started to migrate southward as it would do in the Pacific, maintaining the European continental shelf on the left, in a similar manner to the eastern Pacific migration. Instead of turning left to the Gulf of California it may have turned left into the Mediterranean Sea through Gibraltar Straits and all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean.
In other words, a summering gray whale north of Alaska, swimming eastward along the Alaska coast, may have been able to take advantage of ice-free conditions to continue swimming eastward, all the way through the Canadian Archipelago and west of Greenland (or, perhaps more likely, westward, above Russia and Europe, via the Northeast Passage) until instinct instructed it to turn south and ultimately hang a left.