Rare sight: Sei whale off California coast is first reported in two years

There was something about this whale that seemed different.

It wasn’t a Bryde’s whale, identifiable because of the ridges on their heads. And it didn’t have the distinct white coloring near its lower right jaw like the fin whales.

Naturalist and photographer Kristin Campbell, aboard a Newport Coastal Adventure boat off Laguna Beach, was stumped. But with today’s technology, it wasn’t long before she was able to get confirmation the whale she was observing was a sei whale, rarely seen off the Southern California coast.

Alex Shaw was captaining the boat and discovered the whale hanging out with some dolphins. Campbell, using internet connection aboard the boat, was able to immediately shoot off images to the charter company’s owner, Ryan Lawler, who forwarded them to whale expert Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who in turn consulted scientists to make the confirmation.

All before Campbell even got back to the docks.

“At the speed of light here, whale science is happening,” Lawler said. “Just the fact that we were able to see it, and document it, is pretty cool.”

The sighting created a buzz in the whale-watching community. Lawler said the last sighting of a sei whale (pronounced like say) was in 2017. After comparing images of the two, based on different dorsal fins, it looks like they are two different whales.

“They are not commonly seen off of Southern California, there’s been very few documented sightings,” Lawler said. “It’s such a rare sighting and the fact that there’s been so few very documented off of Southern California is pretty notable. This sighting we made this morning really goes into the history books, as far as biologists are concerned.”

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Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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