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Gray whale is done with Marina del Rey, finally heads north

June 22, 2009 | 12:17 pm


A 20-foot-long gray whale that had been frolicking in the Marina del Rey channel for about three weeks has left the area and appears to be headed north to Alaskan waters, animal rescuers said today.

The whale likely swam up from Baja California en route to Alaska and may have picked the channel as a rest stop. It stayed there for weeks, roaming around, going out to sea and then returning for unknown reasons, said Peter Wallerstein, founder of Marine Animal Rescue.

Wallerstein said that at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, "something clicked in the whale, where it's time to go."

California gray whales migrate south each winter to the waters near Baja California. From roughly February to May, they migrate to northern Alaska. Wallerstein said he followed the whale out of the area on land, watching closely with a pair of binoculars as it swam about 400 yards offshore and went past the Santa Monica Pier and along the coast before heading for deeper waters.

"I felt relieved. It got to be a real problem with boats getting too close and I was worried about the safety of the whale," Wallerstein said. "Just glad it had a happy ending."

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

Photo: Los Angeles Times

More coverage:

Gray whale seems to like Marina del Rey

Whale makes waves in Marina del Rey