Rescuers spent most of Monday wetting down a whale that got stuck in a shallow creek for a third time in as many days.
“Unfortunately the whale is stuck. If he can’t wrangle out of the mud, we’ll have to wait the low tide out,” said Denize Springer, a spokeswoman for the Marine Mammal Center.
The 26-foot immature gray whale has been wandering through South San Francisco Bay channels since it took a detour into the Guadalupe Slough near Alviso on Saturday.
Volunteers thought it was headed back to the bay Saturday night, but it turned around and swam upstream, where it got stuck in about one foot of water in San Tomas Aquino Creek near the Santa Clara Golf & Tennis Club, Springer said.
When the tide came in Sunday afternoon, the whale briefly broke free and headed toward the bay. But after less than a mile, it turned around and got stuck once more as the tide receded.
Rescuers used a harness Monday and began gently guiding the animal through three miles of winding channels, but the whale got stuck again when low tide came.
In an attempt to keep the whale’s skin from burning, rescuers covered it with wet sheets and sprayed it with water.
Veterinarians had no idea why the whale kept turning the wrong way. Blood tests suggested it was healthy and it was breathing normally Monday.
Rescuers considered hoisting the five-ton cetacean onto a flatbed truck and driving it back to the bay, but feared it may not be able to endure the trauma of being removed from the water, Springer said.