A beluga whale has been seen off the coast of San Diego, thousands of miles from known native waters.
Marine mammal experts are mystified by this majestic beluga whale, no one knows why it’s so far from the nearest population or where it came from. Usually, they’re found in the North Pole but this one was seen seven miles off Mission Bay near San Diego, CA.
On a Friday morning on June 26, 2020, Domenic Biagini, a whale-watching tour captain of Gone Whale Watching and wildlife drone photographer, set out on a boat with six clients. They were expecting to see blue whales or humpbacks, but instead, they encountered an astonishing beluga.
Biagini had initially radioed Lisa LaPointe, another San Diego-area whale watching captain, to find out if they had seen any whales that day. She had. LaPointe described seeing a 15-foot “pearly white” creature without a dorsal fin. However, as the whale was extremely timid, it would disappear into the dark depths of the ocean every time her boat veered towards it.
Once she had determined that it was in fact a beluga whale, she convinced Biagini to head to her location to capture it knowing he would have his drone with him. After 45 minutes of searching, the gleaming white whale surfaced from the dark waters right in front of the boat.
Belugas are pure white to blend in with their icy surroundings, namely the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters off the coasts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, Scandinavia, and Alaska. They’re also extremely social and tend to swim in pods, according to National Geographic. But this lone swimmer is at least 2,500 miles away from the nearest known population in Alaska. Experts say it’s the first time a beluga sighting has ever been recorded this far south.
While they aren’t known to go on solo adventures this far away from home, there have been a number of unusual sightings in recent years. In 2018, a beluga was spotted in the Thames River swimming toward London. Russian populations have gone as far as Japan, but a beluga whale in SoCal has just never happened. Ever.
Perhaps this is just a summer vacation for the animal, by the condition of its body it’s definitely enjoying the local cuisine!
[Featured Image: Domenic Biagini]