Aerial footage shows a curious calf getting too close to a boat as its 45-foot mother comes to the rescue.
First things first, no whales were hurt in the making of this video. And in fact, the engine on the 23-foot inflatable boat was turned off – call it a spoiler, but the calf doesn't appear to have been in danger.
That said, the baby gray whale's mother shows off her beautiful maternal instinct in keeping tabs on the baby and guiding him out of the way.
The scenario was captured in California by drone during a whale-watching trip with Newport Coastal Adventure. Currently some 20,000+ gray whales are making their annual trek from their summer feeding grounds off Alaska to the temperate lagoons of Baja California.
It's actually no surprise that the newborn baby went to check out the boat – first of all, it's a whale-shaped gray thing floating in the water, so ... yeah.
“Abandoned or orphaned calves have come into harbors and huddled against boats, seeking bigger boats, likely looking for mom,” whale researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger tells GrindTV. As well, in the Mexican lagoons mother whales actually use small tourist boats to "babysit" calves as they nap, she adds.
“Plus, all calves are curious and get distracted,” Schulman-Janiger, who runs the ACS-LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project in Los Angeles, continues. “Time and again, we watch cow/calf pairs off our Census … and see a calf turn around. The mom has to turn and go back and get it turned in the correct direction.”
Whale moms, they're just like us!
What a treat it is that we can view wildlife like this; even if it does feel a bit like a case of pesky paparazzi. Thankfully there are groups like the one that filmed this scene who are conscientious; Newport uses quiet motors on small boats and takes a maximum of six people out at a time. (It seems the whale watchers might be in more danger here than the whales themselves.) The balance between the increased awareness afforded by wildlife viewing and staying out of the way is a tricky one. But when we end up with footage like this, there is good that can come from it when done carefully – the more we can admire the majesty of nature, the more we feel invested in protecting it. Or at least that's the hope.