Thrilled tourists saw a gray whale on a Southern California whale-watching cruise, and they watched in awe as the massive mammal gave birth.
Monday off Dana Point, south of Los Angeles, smartphone and drone footage captured the calf’s birth and initial minutes of life.
At first, passengers and staff on a boat operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari were concerned that the 35-foot (10.6-meter) gray whale had been harmed after they observed blood in the water.
According to Gary Brighouse, the boat’s skipper, the tone changed to a celebration after everyone realized they were witnessing a birth.
“It went from horror to pure joy and astonishment,” Brighouse told the Orange County Register. “It moved me to my core.”
The mother and her newborn can be seen in the video playing around the boat and swimming under it before finally breaking the surface.
Stacie Fox, a spectator who witnessed the birth of another of Capt. Dave’s boats and took photographs of it, later admitted that she had been screaming with joy.
She described the experience as “once-in-a-lifetime stuff.”
Gray whales frequently give birth while migrating from their Alaskan feeding grounds to the warmer seas off the coast of Mexico in the winter, but this is rarely captured on camera.