A baby California gray whale that found its way into Marina del Rey harbor last weekend has left the harbor and is heading up the coast.
But the calf may still be in danger. If unable to find its mother, it stands little chance at completing its two- to three-month migration to Alaska.
“It’s very serious if it’s alone,” said Peter Wallerstein, founder of Marine Animal Rescue. “My gut feeling is that it’s a calf, it’s weak, slow and alone.”
Wallerstein believes that the young whale was born this year near Baja California, where California grey whales migrate annually to breed.
The 15-foot newborn was first spotted in the harbor on Saturday. Deputy Richard Geoffrey of the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station said that another deputy saw it 400 to 500 yards into the harbor.
When Wallerstein arrived, he was alarmed to find the confused calf deep in the marina — in the Mother’s Beach area.
“We had paddleboarders trying to touch it,” Wallerstein said.
He recommended that bystanders keep their distance.
Despite the urgency of the whale’s condition, there was little that the Sheriff’s Department or Marine Animal Rescue could do.
“We don’t assist them in any way,” Geoffrey said. “They typically hang out for a couple days then go away.”
After a three-day stay, the whale did just that. Marine Animal Rescue received reports of sightings near Lifeguard Tower 8 in Santa Monica Tuesday morning. The baby whale later nearly beached at the Bel Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades.
Wallerstein urges anyone who spots the whale to report it to the Marine Animal Rescue hotline: (800) 39-WHALE.
— Billy Singleton