Gray Whale Israel Sighting BAFFLES Scientists (VIDEO)

05/11/2010 06:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A gray whale sighting in Israel stunned researchers this past weekend, believed to be the first such sighting outside the Pacific Ocean in some 300 years.

Gray whales are typically only found in the Pacific Ocean, and years of hunting is believed to have made them vanish in the North Atlantic around the 17th or 18th centuries, USA Today reports.

To be found in the Mediterranean Sea, the gray whale presumably traveled "a huge distance from its natural habitat thousands of kilometres away," and one researcher said it was "bizarre in the extreme," per BBC.

Another researcher, Phillip Clapham of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said of the discovery: "There are really only two explanations: that there has been a relict population in the N Atlantic that no one has noticed (virtually impossible), or (more likely) that this whale came down through the ice-free Northwest Passage and is now hopelessly lost."