Whale watchers on a boat tour off Dana Point, California witnessed the miracle of life as a gray whale gave birth to a baby whale calf on Monday.
Passengers and crew captured the birth and the calf’s first moments of life on cellphone and drone video on Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari boat tour.
When passengers first spotted blood in the water they thought the whale was injured.
“For a minute, many of us thought it may be a shark or predatory event,” said Matt Stumpf, Capt. Dave’s drone operator. “But no, instead of the end of life, it was the beginning of a new one!”
“The range of emotion couldn’t have been more extreme,” Capt. Gary Brighouse with Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari told the Orange County Register.
The video shows the baby whale lying on its mother and swimming near the whale-watching boat. The inflatable 24-foot boat was temporarily lifted out of the water as the baby whale swam extremely close to the vessel.
The mother brushed up against the boat to protect the calf, the Orange County Register reported.
Adult gray whales can be 40-50 feet long, more than double the boat’s length.
After the birth, Brighouse told the Orange County Register that the baby whale was so close to the boat that passengers and crew could see its nostrils.
Passengers and crew named the baby whale “Severin” in honor of a passenger on board who was celebrating a birthday.
While it’s common for whales to give birth during their winter journey to Mexico, the phenomenon is rarely captured on camera, according to the Associated Press.
“Gray whales migrate annually along the U.S. west coast, swimming 10,000 to 12,000 miles round-trip. The whales travel from their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas near Alaska to Baja’s mating and birthing lagoons and back again, a news release said.