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Emaciated gray whale spotted swimming feet from Seal Beach coastline

An emaciated gray whale believed to be separated from its mother has been spotted off the Southern California coast in the last week, with the most recent sighting occurring Tuesday in Seal Beach, marine safety officials said.

The 18-foot whale was spotted four to five feet off the beach south of Seal Beach pier between 8 and 9 a.m., said Nick Bolin of the Seal Beach Marine Safety Office. The previous two days the whale was swimming near Long Beach and went into the harbor, Bolin said.

“It got real close to the shore. We were just kind of keeping people away from it for the first hour or two,” Bolin said of the whale on Tuesday.

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The whale hasn’t been spotted since, he said.

Experts on Tuesday couldn’t say for sure, but they believe it is the same juvenile whale that was seen hugging the coastline in San Diego a week ago, said Krysta Higuchi of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.

“Unfortunately there’s not much we can do. We want to make sure he doesn’t strand himself,” Higuchi said.

Gray whales should either be in, or swimming to, the Gulf of Alaska for feeding, Higuchi said. The juvenile may be lost and staying near the coastline for protection, she said.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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