Drone Captures Stunning Footage Of Very Special Whale Family
Whale watchers were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime sight on Monday: a grey whale mother with not one, but two young calves.
A video, the first of its kind, shows the gorgeous pair of calves slicing through the water next to their mother, keeping close to her side as they glide under a hovering camera drone.
"It was just beautiful to see the two animals right next to their mother," Captain Dave Anderson, of Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari, says in the video. "It was amazing. The most amazing thing that I've ever seen out on the ocean."
Anderson, who captured the footage, said in a statement to The Dodo that in his 20 years of business he's never heard of anyone seeing a mother with two calves. The trio was spotted on Monday by whale watchers with Dolphin & Whale Safari off the coast of Dana Point, California.
It's unclear whether the calves are twins or whether one of them was adopted by the mother whale. There are a few documented cases of whales and dolphins adopting young calves, but never a grey whale.
"I think it more likely, though also extremely rare, that these whales were born to the same mother," Anderson explained. "While one calf is slightly longer than the other, neither calf appears to be undernourished, like we might expect in the case of an adoption."
Whatever the case, this special family has a long journey ahead. Twins are twice as hard on mother whales, as the babies can grow 50 pounds per day and, according to Anderson, the mothers can lose nearly one-third of their body weight while nursing just one calf. Mom will also have to keep them safe from orcas and human threats like ships and fishing gear.
But for now, the whales are going strong as they make the 6,000-mile migration from Mexico's coast to the arctic seas.
"They all appeared normal sized and appeared to be swimming normally like one big, happy, healthy family," Anderson said. "I hope to hear about more sightings of this beautiful trio as they make their way up the coast."
"I'll say a little prayer that they make it to the feeding grounds and Mom weans them properly," he added.
You can watch the breathtaking footage below.