Wrong-Way Whale Finally High-Tails It Back Into the Ocean


A small whale beached itself Wednesday afternoon in Redondo Beach, was tugged back into the water by county lifeguards, swam back ashore--and then, just as it was about to be trucked to Sea World, plopped back into the ocean, apparently for good.

The California gray whale calf, estimated to be about 12 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds, washed onto the beach near Avenue E about 4:05 p.m., Los Angeles County Lifeguard Lt. Don Souther said.

Lifeguards turned the mammal around so it faced the ocean, and it swam out to sea, he said.


But not for long.

A few minutes later, the whale came back ashore, this time a bit farther south, owing to the swell coming from the north.

“This time we made a few phone calls, because we figure maybe this whale’s gonna be with us for a while,” Souther said.

Among the calls were those to federal marine and fisheries officials, and to Sea World, the San Diego theme park that sometimes helps care for abandoned or wounded whales, seals and other ocean creatures.

Lifeguards got permission from federal authorities to have the whale trucked to San Diego, Souther said.

Heavy machinery was summoned to the scene. So were a dozen more lifeguards, who had just finished a first-aid training class in nearby Manhattan Beach.

About 5:30 p.m., however, just as the group of lifeguards arrived at the shoreline, the whale slid back into the sea.


“He suddenly decided to make his own decisions and swam back into the ocean, and that’s the last we saw of him,” Souther said.

“Maybe,” the lieutenant said later, “it heard its mom. Who knows?”