A surfer at Silver Strand State Beach on Coronado Island caught more than a wave on Tuesday morning when he captured a close encounter of a gray whale.
Daron Case was out with other surfers when a whale that he believes was a 20-foot-long juvenile started swimming right through the line of surfers off the San Diego County coast.
He had his GoPro camera with him, so he snapped clear and close footage of the whale both under water and breaching.
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“Me and a buddy, Dave Orozco (who was the surfing alongside the whale in the video) were close enough to have the whale swim within a few feet,” Case said in a Facebook message to NBC 7.
A spokesman for Scripps Institute of Oceanography said the whale appears to be a gray whale. Experts at Birch Aquarium also believe the whale may not be in the best of health.
Experts said the whale appears overly thin and the number of barnacles on its body indicates it is traveling very slow, though they don't know the cause of its poor health.
Gray whales are not uncommon in the area. Heading out to the Coronado Canyon, there’s a deep ridge line about 9 miles offshore that gray whales follow while migrating.
Hallie Johnson, a spokeswoman for Birch Aquarium, said it's "uncommon but not unheard of" to spot gray whales at this time of year.
"We typically don't start to see gray whales on their southbound migration until later in the fall," she said in an email.