Excited whale watching passengers aboard Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari saw the return of gray whales off Dana Point on Saturday.
However, the first gray whale of the season whale had chunks taken out of its tail flukes, a tell-tale sign of a killer whale attack. According to Capt. Dave Anderson, an estimated 35 percent of gray whale calves are attacked and killed by killer whales and so this whale may have been attacked by transient orca.
Watch Capt. Dave's video here.
Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal and are seen every winter off Orange County. The whales travel more than 12,000 miles from the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the lagoons of Baja, CA, where they mate and have their calves, according to Anderson.
Whale watchers see gray whales off Dana Point from December through April and sometimes as late as May. where some believe they use Dana Point’s headlands as a landmark on their journey, making them a popular whale to watch, according to Anderson.
In early March, Dana Point harbor will celebrate the 42nd annual Festival of Whales with ocean-themed events and activities with an emphasis on education and environmental responsibility.
Throughout their migration gray whales face many challenges and hazards one of which takes the lives of nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins every day. Scientists estimate that 308,000 dolphins and whales die because of fishing gear entanglement every year worldwide, says Anderson.
Capt. Dave also organized Orange County's only whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including Lily, whose disentanglement made national headlines, according to staff.