This is the incredible moment a huge gray whale gives birth in front of a lucky group of whale watchers.
The sprawling female was spotted lying on her back out to see near Dana Point, California, just south of Los Angeles on Monday.
But suddenly she is joined by her baby as it emerges through the bloody water and swims happily around her.
The astonishing scenes happened just yards away from the boat of a group of whale watchers, who took in the spectacle in awe.
The passengers on the boat, which is operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, looked on in shock and astonishment while watching
Southern California whale watchers witnessed the birth of a gray whale just feet away from their boat Monday
One woman who was on the boat that witnessed the birth said: ‘It’s once-in-a-lifetime type stuff.’
Passengers were first alerted to the birth when they noticed blood in the water and thought the whale may have been injured.
Quickly, the group realized, however, the 35-foot whale was in fact giving birth.
The boat’s captain, Gary Brighouse, said the entire outing turned celebratory after the realization set in.
The passengers on the boat, which is operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, looked on in shock and astonishment while watching, according to the captain.
‘The range of emotion couldn’t have been more extreme,’ said Brighouse in an interview with the Orange County Register.
‘It went from horror to pure joy and astonishment,’ the captain continued. ‘It moved me to my core.’
Gray whales like the one caught on camera are often seen in Southern California as they make their winter voyage from Alaska to Mexico for warmer waters.
Births being caught on camera are rare, however.
‘As far as I know, no one has filmed a gray whale giving birth or even seen it before,’ said Dave Anderson, the owner of Capt. Dave’s.
Brighouse also described the group as ‘lucky’ for witnessing such a spectacle, but also shared how he and others were concerned by their proximity.
‘We were like, ‘Wait a minute, don’t come too close. That mom wants to protect you,” Brighouse said.
‘Mom calmly cruised between the baby and the boat, she rubbed up against our boat and our boat lifted out of the water, which was a little unsettling,’ he said.
The spectacle happened near Dana Point, California, just south of Los Angeles
One woman who was on the boat that witnessed the birth said: ‘It’s once-in-a-lifetime type stuff’
Gray whales like the one caught on camera are often seen in Southern California as they make their winter voyage from Alaska to Mexico for warmer waters
Stacie Fox, who was on the boat and took photos of the birth, said she was overjoyed to witness the birth and described it as a unique experience.
‘I was screaming my head off, I was super excited,’ Fox said. ‘I definitely thought that it was something I would not see unless I was going down to the lagoon. It’s once-in-a-lifetime type stuff.’
Others on the boat appeared to agree.
In video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, one woman can be heard screaming ‘oh my God, oh my God’ at the birth.
The video, posted by Capt. Dave’s, has amassed more than 18,000 views. Comments have piled up on the post, with viewers sharing the joy the video brought them.
‘I’ve been on some amazing whale watches, with Capt. Dave’s and on Maui, but this would have topped them all! Happy mama, happy calf,’ said one YouTube commenter. ‘Omg! Just bought my tickets,’ wrote another person.
One person who was on the boat and celebrating his birthday suggested to the group the calf should share his name, ‘Severin,’ since they also share birthdays.
Brighouse also described the group as ‘lucky’ for witnessing such a spectacle, but also shared how he and others were concerned by their proximity
In video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, one woman can be heard screaming ‘oh my God, oh my God’ at the birth
The group agreed, according to the Orange County Register.
The Monday trip out on the waters was the first of the year for the boating company, due to rocky waters on New Year’s Day. Another boat captain called to the scene described the
‘Once we returned, we saw the newborn calf just minutes old,’ Moore said. ‘The mom was gently lifting the calf to take breaths, while the calf seemed to be resting on her back.
‘Other moments we could see the calf’s floppy fluke, as this newborn calf was learning to swim.’
Researchers have been watching the West Coast gray whale species carefully in recent years.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, an alarming number of whales have washed up dead on shores.
Many of the whales appear starved and emaciated. In 2020, 172 washed up on shores from Canada to Mexico. In 2021, the number was 115, and 2022 recorded 104 incidents.
Scientists are still keeping an eye on the species, which neared extinction in the 1800s, but has since seen a healthy bounce back thanks to protections put in place in the 1930s and 1940s.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration estimates there are currently about 17,000 gray whales in the world. That number is down nearly 10,000 from 2016, however.
Tourists took tons of pictures and videos of the whales in the water
Gray whale births being caught on camera are rare