Gray Whales Spotted at Dana Point, Laguna

Last Thursday, beachgoers were delighted and in awe as a mother whale and her baby was spotted playing near the coastlines of the Lantern Village. The gray whales drew so much attention; hence the county’s Sheriff Harbor Patrol went to the scene immediately to check if everything was going okay.

The mother and baby whale were also accompanied by probably another female whale, but without a calf. They were all spotted frolicking and spy hopping around noon. Whale watch captain Todd Mansur noticed them outside the harbor. Mansur is from the Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching organization.

Mansur, along with several whale watchers stayed with the giant mammals as the whales continued to play at the harbor’s mouth with 35 feet of water. The whales played for about 15 minutes, moving north towards the headlands, whereby they returned to their game.

Later, Mansur found them a little farther up the Three Arch Bay coast, moving to the 10th Street, and then at Moss Point.

Mansur said the whales stayed in that area for about 45 minutes who simply played and rolled. Mansur described the number of whale watchers with him, saying that they were worried the patrol would show up. According to Mansur, the sheriff deputies questioned him on what was going on, but assured them that the whales were doing just fine, what mothers and their calves do normally.

When the calves are born in Baja’s lagoons, they start a 3-month migration to the Bering Sea so as to reach their feeding grounds. The whales, later on, travel 6,800 miles in just one way, covering about 75 miles a day for more than 90 days in total.

Mother whales and their calves tend to travel close to the shoreline. What Mansur and the other spectators witnessed was a sort of an exercise. Whale mothers encourage their calves so as their babies start to develop stronger muscles, strengthening them in time for a strenuous journey once they get through Point Concepcion.

While the whales pass Point Concepcion, which is where the real rough waters begin, they also face and encounter greater dangers. A natural predator, the Orcas stalks the whales in these areas often. Of course, baby whales are more vulnerable to such attacks.

Towards the north portion of the Point of Concepcion headland, the water becomes rougher. Meanwhile, the weather makes it more difficult to travel.

Mansur explained the importance of whale mothers teaching their calves. Basically, whale mothers teach their babies to adapt to shallow waters. Thus, the scene they recently observed was one of the exercises and learning hours of the calf.

Whale mothers certainly exercise their babies to be stronger and more flexible, according to Mansur. The coastline serves as an enjoyable place for the baby to exercise and learn, and so is for the whale watchers as they get closer looks at these amazing mammals. Mansur said the calves will travel without their mothers next year and will stay in shallow waters most of the time.


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