'Whale with no tail' spotted swimming in California

Injured whale defies the odds to embark on migration

Updated: 
Whale with no tail spotted swimming with pod

A whale that has lost its fluke has been spotted defying the odds and migrating north from California.

The grey whale was spotted travelling alone on Sunday off Dana Point, but was then seen on Monday off Point Vicente in Los Angeles County joining two other grey whales on the northbound migration.



Speaking to The Grind, Captain Tom White of the Dana Pride, which runs from Dana Wharf Whale Watching, said: "It just goes to show how smart these mammals are, to be able to adapt so well without a limb.

"It was migrating along fine, although a little slower than what we usually see – about 3 knots instead of 4 or 5.

"And during its deeper dives it would use its pectoral fins and swim harder on one side to spin around in kind of a corkscrew manner. But it did not seem to be in any trouble."

A gray whale's flukes are seen at the Sa

It is believed the young whale lost its fluke (shown as it should be above) relatively recently after becoming entangled in fishing gear, possibly ropes from crab or lobster pots.

According to The Dodo, entanglement in fishing nets kills nearly 308,000 whales and dolphins a year - or 843 every day.

Michael J. Moore, Ph.D., a marine biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told The Dodo: "The nature of chronic entanglement trauma is perhaps the worst form of animal welfare abuse known to man. It's likely that the net slowly cut off the flukes, giving the major blood vessels that feed the fluke time to clot and heal as the damage got deeper."

The whale is setting off on a 12,000-mile round-trip migration to Arctic feeding grounds, from where it will return next year to nursing and mating grounds in lagoons along Baja California, Mexico.


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