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.
With the Northwest Passage predicted to open up with greater frequency in future years as a result of warming temperatures, says Clapham, "I doubt that this whale will be the last."
Unfortunately, said Scheinin, there are no funds to enable the wayward whale to be tagged and followed by satellite (although a biopsy dart to gather DNA and confirm its provenance may be possible). The lengthy journey appears to have exacted a toll, and its emaciated condition suggests that the possibility of it successfully undergoing a return voyage to the Pacific is, in Scheinin's words, "rather slim."
For now at least, the whale is very far from home and very much alone.