Surfing Gray Whales In Warm San Diego Waters

Gray whale (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)
Gregory Bull / Associated Press

On Wednesday, two gray whales played in the waves just off the Mission Beach coastline–and one photographer has the pictures to prove it.

Warm El Niño waters are leading whales closer to California shores.

Paul Wilson, a professional photographer, caught still shots of the whales riding the waves, while a surfcam on his beachfront property caught video of one of the whales spy hopping according to Fox 5 local news. The video also gives viewers an idea of just how close to shore the whales came.

Last December, whales drawn to shore by El Niño waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean were becoming caught in fishing gear. An estimated 60 whales were found entangled in commercial fishing lines in 2015. That number is up 400% from normal years.

In January 2015, the ACS-LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project reported a record number of whales migrating south through the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The project reported 504 whales, more than 11 of the 31 years that it has monitored the southern California migration region.

Gray whales are known for their long migration routes and for traveling in pods off of the west coast of North America, according to National Geographic. At up to 40 tons in weight and 50 feet in length, the giant mammals are also found in waters near Korea. Their need to surface in order to breathe lends to common sightings off the coast. The North American migration route can run 12,430 miles, from summers in Alaskan waters to winter habitat and breeding grounds in the shallow waters off the coast of Mexico.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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