A strong south swell attracted more than the typical cavalcade of surfers to the popular Southern California surf spot The Wedge on Friday. Beachgoers were surprised when a baby gray whale nearly beached itself onshore, flopping around in shallow water for some time before eventually swimming back out to safety.
“We looked out there and saw what we think was a baby gray whale,” a beachgoer who observed the scene told the Orange County Register. “All of a sudden everyone looked away from the bodyboarders to watch it. The waves just kept pushing [the whale] up toward the sand. I was like, 'How are we going to get it back?'”
Social media channels were flooded with videos of the roughly 20-foot whale frantically struggling to get back out to the ocean as visitors to the Newport Beach locale helplessly looked on.
While its size indicated that the gray whale was likely only a juvenile (adult gray whales grow between 40-50 feet), the whale’s immense weight coupled with the massive swell pounding The Wedge (waves at the spot topped out at 14 feet on Friday) would have made rescuing the whale nearly impossible.
“It was a five-minute event,” Newport Beach Marine Safety Battalion Chief Brent Jacobsen told the Orange County Register. “Luckily, it resolved itself. The surf would have made [rescuing the whale] a challenge, it would have been very risky.”
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