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Bizarre Facts: Whale with no Tail Swims with no Travail

NEWPORT BEACH— On March 13, a gray whale was spotted by Newport Coastal Adventure swimming up the coast off Newport Beach around 10 a.m. at an average pace of 3mph. 


Whale watchers became stunned as they noticed the whale was swimming with a significant part missing from its body— its fluke. Newport Coastal Adventure is calling the mammal the “Miracle Whale” since, despite completely missing its tail, the whale still kept on and continued to make the epic 12,000-mile round trip migration from its feeding grounds in Alaska to its breeding grounds in the lagoons of Mexico, and back. 


“The whale appeared able to make its migration from Alaska to Mexico and back since this injury looks to be several years old,” said Jessica Roame, the education manager for Newport Coastal Adventure, in an email to the Log. “The whale is maybe a little underweight but not dramatically so. This type of injury was likely caused by its tail being tangled in commercial fishing gear, and eventually falling off. As horrible as this injury is, it’s incredible that this whale is determined to survive, and so far, appears to be successful.”


According to NOAA, the massive flukes on these whales are used to propel them through the water and are controlled by an enormous muscle system that makes up one-third of the whale’s weight. 


Although it’s not the first time a whale in these circumstances has been seen, it’s definitely uncommon. In early 2023, a tailless humpback whale was seen swimming normally in the Pacific off the coast of Columbia, according to Orca, a marine conservation organization that works to protect whales. 


Incredible overhead drone footage taken by the crew can be seen at  

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