Whale with no tail spotted swimming in California – Watch

Updated: March 19, 2015
'Whale with no tail' spotted swimming in California - Watch

Whale With No Tail? Rare sighting of a gray whale without a fluke off Southern California shows that the migrating cetaceans possess a remarkable ability to adapt.

A whale-watching ship encountered the lone gray whale, whose entire tail was cut off — likely by being snared in a fishing net — as he made his 10,000-mile yearly migration from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula to Alaska. According to Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, the whale had devised a clever way to continue swimming without the propulsion of his flukes, a hopeful adaptation to what could have been a fatal injury.

The whale was diving sharply and corkscrewing his body in order to continue moving and reach the surface to breathe, the company said.

In a 2004 scientific paper about the phenomenon, titled “Gray Whales With Loss of Flukes Adapt and Survive,” there are references to a handful of flukeless whale sightings, mostly in Baja California’s lagoons.

All were believed to have lost their flukes because of fishing gear.

There was speculation, but not confirmation, that the same flukeless whale spotted in 1982 and 1983 in San Ignacio Lagoon was also spotted in 1997. That would suggest remarkable adaptability.

Another flukeless gray whale was spotted with a calf in San Ignacio Lagoon.

The paper also describes the same corkscrew or rolling behavior described by White in reference to the whale currently en route to Arctic waters, where it will feed with about 20,000 other gray whales throughout the summer and early fall.

Will it complete the trip and enjoy the feeding season, and migrate to Baja again next year? And will it someday produce offspring?

Given that its wound has all but healed, and that it does not seem slowed by its disability, it seems likely.

That is, if the whale without a tail can avoid the fishing gear.