Beluga whale sighted off San Diego coast

Posted by Imogen Searra on 14 July 2020

Beluga whales are common in coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean. These sea creatures, also known as white whales, are easily identifiable by their pearly white colour and large forehead. They are known to be found in subarctic waters near Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska and Canada too, but nowhere near southern California.

Captain Lisa LaPointe spotted a beluga off the coast of San Diego and radioed wildlife photographer and whale-watching tour captain, Domenic Biagini, according to National Geographic.

Over the radio call, she explained that she had seen a white, 15-foot animal with no dorsal fin and contacted him again after an hour when she sighted the whale for a second time.

Biagini set off to find LaPointe to document the whale in these parts using a drone. After a 45-minute search, the whale resurfaced and Biagini captured spectacular footage of the cetacean.

A principal scientist at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center, Kristin Laidre said to National Geographic: ‘Belugas are gregarious, they’re usually together in groups. To have one individual so far away from the core range of the beluga—I can’t even wager a guess why it swam to California.’

While it is unusual for the beluga to be in these parts, these whales have been sighted in areas outside of their natural habitats. A beluga was seen near the Washington State coast in 1940 and in 2018 a beluga ventured up the Thames River, cruising toward London, according to National Geographic. 

Image credit: Unsplash/generic

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