A young gray whale is not something you see every day, and probably one of the last things you expect to see when you go to the beach. However, this young gray whale decided to approach the shore and hang out with beachgoers at this southern California beach earlier this week. Wildlife photographer Mark Girardeau was quick to shoot this aerial video and post it online. So far, more than 800 thousand people have seen it.
While the animal’s behavior might seem a bit worrisome and the whale also looked too skinny, Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, told National Geographic that none of this is as uncommon as we might think. “We see animals in shallow water daily,” he said of gray whales, who also tend to forage on their own and not in groups. As for its apparently low weight, Mate said it doesn’t necessarily indicate bad health — the gray whale would have to be much skinnier (with protruding vertebrae or scapula easily seen through its skin) for this to be alarming.