+
upworthy
Science

A whale-watching tour got to witness a gray whale giving birth right next to their boat

Even the expert crew said they'd never seen anything like it.

gray whale
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Whale watchers got to see a baby whale being born off the coast of Dana Point, California.

Seeing a whale in the wild can be a moving experience for many people. That's why thousands of people pay money to go on whale-watching excursions, hoping to catch a glimpse of the gentle, majestic, intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

Lucky whale watchers get to catch much more than a glimpse, and some even see a whale breach up close. But very, very few ever get to see anything close to what a recent group of tourists on a whale-watching cruise off Dana Point, California, got to witness.

Boats are required by law to stay at least 100 yards away from whales, but if a whale approaches a boat when it's stopped, there's not a whole lot a captain can do. Starting up the engine would just disturb it, so the best thing to do is just enjoy the encounter.

In this case, when a gray whale swam near a Capt. Dave's Dana Point Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari tour boat, passengers and crew thought they might be witnessing something tragic. The whale was splashing about and was soon surrounded by blood in the water. Some speculated that maybe a shark or other predatory animal had attacked the whale.


As it turned out, they were witnessing the miracle of life—it was a mama giving birth to a baby gray whale.

Twitter user Jeremy Theisen shared a video of the event, and though it's difficult to see what happens, you can hear the people on the boat wondering what was happening before it became clear.

Capt. Dave's shared drone footage of the exciting moments after the birth as the calf learned to swim and the mama seemed to show off her newborn to those who witnessed the event.

"This is a first for all of us. We've never actually seen it happen," Capt. Gary Brighouse can be heard saying, according to WXXI News.

Captain Dave's shared in a statement on YouTube:

"After surfacing, the newborn calf began learning how to swim and bonding with its mother. The female even brought the calf over to the boats as if to show off her offspring and say hello.

Gray whales prefer to give birth in the warm and protected lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. The lagoons offer safety from predators such as orcas, as well as warm water for calves who have not yet built up a thick layer of blubber.

Although some gray whales do give birth in Baja, there are times when calves just won't wait and are born during the migration. Gray whales migrate annually along the U.S. west coast, swimming 10,000 to 12,000 miles round-trip. It is one of the longest migrations of any mammal. The whales travel from their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas near Alaska to the mating and birthing lagoons of Baja, and back again."

Alisa Schulman-Janiger runs the Los Angeles chapter of the American Cetacean Society's Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project, which tracks the migration patterns of whales along the coast. She told NPR that the footage of the birth and immediate aftermath was "astounding" and a windfall for researchers.

"The fact that you can see the blood pool means the calf must have just come out," she said. "That isn't something that is seen very often or documented often. In fact, I don't know if there's any other video footage of something like that."

Schulman-Janiger explained how the mama whale was holding the calf up so it could rest and breathe and that they exhibited typical bonding behavior. She said she wished she had been there, adding: "It's extraordinarily rare and really, really special for people to be able to share in those first few moments of a young whale's life. A whale could get to be 50, 60, 80 years old. And this is just the beginning of that calf life."

What an incredible thing to witness.

With the new year comes plenty of resolutions we all vow to keep up with the best of intentions. But by February 1, our resolve has often waned as life gets in the way and things go back to how they were. What we all need a little more of is motivation.

When we participate in something collectively, it’s easier to meet goals and maintain the enthusiasm to get things done. While the support of a friend or two is great, imagine having the power of an entire online community cheering you on and offering advice along the way.

This is where the Daily Decluttering Challenge Facebook group comes in. This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

“By building a network of people who can support and encourage you along the way, you can make progress towards your goals faster and more effectively. Remember, no one achieves success alone, and having a strong support system can make the difference in a goal set versus a goal achieved,” says Kristin Burke, a goal achievement coach.

In addition to tips for tidying up around the house, members share advice on how to tackle one thing at a time, where to donate excess items, and what they do to exercise more willpower to avoid buying new things.

For anyone hoping to declutter their lives in the new year, this Facebook group has the perfect challenge to get you started.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Optical illusion that looks like a person with two dogs has people totally tripping

It takes a while to see it, but there are not two dogs in the photo.

Where is the third dog in this photo?

Optical illusions are wild. The way our brains perceive what our eyes see can be way off base, even when we're sure about what we're seeing.

Plenty of famous optical illusions have been created purposefully, from the Ames window that appears to be moving back and forth when it's actually rotating 360 degrees to the spiral image that makes Van Gogh's "Starry Night" look like it's moving.

But sometimes optical illusions happen by accident. Those ones are even more fun because we know they aren't a result of someone trying to trick our brains. Our brains do the tricking all by themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less
via YouTube

History is full of great stories about bitter battles between loyal opposition. In basketball, there was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. In the '80s, harsh political battles were fought between Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill. But all of these rivals respected their opposition as competitors in their respective fields. Now, a year-long battle between a cleaning crew and a street artist can be added to history's legendary battles between loyal opposition.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

People share the 18 things that are a 'subtle sign' someone is really smart

"They effortlessly communicate complex concepts in a simple way."

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Considerate mouse caught secretly tidying up man's shed, and it's so adorable

"I could sit and watch this little mouse-that-could for hours," one viewer wrote.

Canva

This will be the most wholesome story you read this week.

A mouse caught in the act of tidying up a cluttered tool shed…it’s something you’d expect to see in a Disney movie, sure. But real life? Not so much.

But this delightful sight was indeed something seen in the flesh by retired postman and avid wildlife photographer Rodney Holbrook living in Wales. And luckily, thanks to Holbrook setting up a special night vision camera and the internet, it’s a sight we all get to enjoy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

A body temperature expert explains why some people are always freezing

And there's a scientific reason that it's more common for women.



You wear extra chunky sweaters. You've never met a mitten you didn't like. You may even keep a lap blanket at work.

You're one of those people who is always cold. And you are not alone.

Inside or outside, you just can't seem to get warm. This characteristic of yours manifests itself in extra blankets, wild heating bills, and enough complaints that you start going hoarse.

Keep ReadingShow less