The video of a baby gray whale swimming alongside the beach goers at Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, on Tuesday, has gone viral after it was posted by a local photographer. The snorkelers, swimmers did not seem to notice the young mammal swimming with them in the video captured by a drone.
The mammal was also spotted swimming into the Dana Point Harbor earlier in the day a paddle boarder, and the 30-ton creature did not leave until the mid afternoon, reports said.
The aerial video of the whale swimming close to the shore was captured by local wildlife photographer Mark Girardeau, but little did he know that his video would go viral. It had garnered more than 1.6 million views at the time of publishing this article.
From Girardeau’s drone, it could be clearly seen that the whale swam along the waters near snorkelers and a woman on an alligator raft. The photographer, on his Facebook post, wrote the whale stealthily swam into the waters, “completely unrecognized by nearby swimmers.” It then turned around and headed back toward the sea.
The photographer, who runs the website Orange County Outdoors, had gone to the Dana Point Harbor as well to film the whale, but till then, it had swum toward the sea, according to the Orange County Register.
“I was kind of bummed. I knew if the whale took the normal migration path, I could intercept it at Aliso Beach about an hour later…Sure enough, it passed right by Aliso Beach,” he said.
Girardeau was startled when for a long time people, swimming nearby the whale, did not notice it. “It started going right into the people,” he told a friend who was with him. “The whale is going to pop up here. We were watching the whale come up — these people are going to be really scared.”
When the gray whale was spotted at Dana Point Harbor, sheriff’s deputies and others struggled to put back the possibly ailing mammal out of the harbor back into the sea. The authorities got to know about the whale from Citizens Band radio chatter about 8 a.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT), NBC Los Angeles reported, quoting Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Lane Lagaret.
He said it looked the whale left the harbor only to return at around 11 a.m. (2 p.m. EDT) after which it again swam back to the sea at 1:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. EDT).
The whale was not in best of health. It was about 20 to 25 feet long and looked “really skinny,” said Justin Greenman, assistant stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to the report.
Greenman also pointed barnacles — patchy white spots on gray whales — on its top side. Similar signs led the experts “to believe its health is compromised.” Regarding whether the whale was lost or not, Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, said it was common for a gray whale to be alone, National Geographic reported.
“There might be a bunch in the same place,” said Mate, “but they’re out there making a living for themselves.”
He added: “We see animals in shallow water daily,” regarding the spotting of gray whales in Oregon. Gray whales are often seen feeding on the sea floor, eating amphipods and other small crustaceans. These whales can feed on any food which is available, Mate said.