Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wayward Whale Seems to Like San Diego

We had a wayward whale enter San Diego Bay in March of 2009.  This was a little story I wrote about it for Associated Content:

A young California gray whale who had wandered into San Diego Bay on March 10th, 2009 doesn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. The 30 foot long male, of an indeterminate age, seems to like where it's at right now. The whale came into the bay around Shelter Island about midday and was thought to have left later that night. However, the next morning, he was seen even deeper to the south. He seems to prefer being around the Star of India and the main Embarcadero right on the coast of San Diego's Harbor Island.
It's not the first time, and probably not the last time, a whale has been in San Diego bay. Whales do like to wander there from time to time over history. At this time of year, most of the whales that had spent their time calving and hanging out in the waters off the coast of the south end of Baja California have begun to migrate north again. However, some whales, especially early in the year, are still making their way south. Right now, it is unknown which way this whale was going when he decided to take a turn into the bay.
The Coast Guard and a whale expert have gone out to check on the whale after a report that it was struck by a boat, which turned out to be false. The whale has said to be healthy and possibly feeding near the bottom. In fact, food may be the main reason why he came into the bay in the first place. Long periods of time pass between sightings and whale experts say that this is a good thing. When a whale is distressed, it surfaces more often and the fact that the whale is not surfacing that much means that he is more relaxed. There have been times when it is thought that he had left the area only to show up again later on.
In the meanwhile, business at the harbors of San Diego have been booming as people flock to get a glimpse of the whale which has surfaced fairly close to the docks. People are booking whale watching tours and spending money in the museums and shops in the area.
Gray whales are usually about 15 feet when they are born and grow to a maximum of around 40 to 50 feet long. At a year old, they can be as big as 25 to 30 feet. They are generally weaned at about 8 months, but stay with their mothers for about year, or after their first full migration. They are fully mature at about 8 to 10 years old They generally travel in small groups of three and pods up to sixteen members. When feeding or resting, they may associate into larger, temporary groups.
Sea World and other cetacean authorities say that they can't do anything regarding this whale at the current time. Federal law also states that people and boats must stay at least 100 yards from any whale and not do anything to impede its movements in any way.

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