A blue whale nicknamed Delta gave quite a show a few weeks back after being photographed off Dana Point. Onlookers aboard a boat operated by Dana Wharf Whale Watching enjoyed the splash when the blue whale exposed its fluke – or tail – for everyone to see.
The blue whale was affectionately named Delta because of her large tail span. The peculiar shape of its fluke with both ends turned upward, like winglets on an airplane wing, earned the blue whale this great nickname.
Check out this video below and watch the show for yourself! After being posted online, the video became an instant hit. Facebook users started posting comments, sharing where they had seen – or thought they had seen – this particular whale.
According to Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, two blue whales with similar fluke formations have been photo-cataloged in the eastern Pacific. The image captured recently off Dana Point, by Frank Brennan of Dana Wharf Whale Watching, was matched to a whale cataloged as #135, as seen in the video above.
“Delta is a new whale to me, but others say they’ve seen a lot of her over the years”, said Mike Makofske, a spokesperson for the Orange County chapter of the American Cetacean Society.
“I posted Dana Wharf’s photo on the ACS National Facebook page, and Dorris Welch of Sanctuary Cruises in Moss Landing said they’d seen her several times in early summer 2012, up in Monterey Bay. Another poster, Diane Dahl Cullins, commented that she had a picture of the same whale taken two years ago off San Diego”, he added.
Facebook user Eric Zimmerman posted: “On the [Santa Barbara-based] Condor Express we nicknamed it ’747′ after its large size and the way its fluke tips resemble the winglets found on the end of large airplane wings”.
Annie Douglas of Cascadia stated via email that the first known sighting of Delta was on October 7, 1997, in the Gulf of the Farallones beyond San Francisco. Before this recent sighting, Delta had been encountered 15 different years – including two years off Baja California – and 29 times, based on photo matches.
From 1987 to 2005, most encounters were off northern Central California but, interestingly, according to Cascadia’s records, all known sightings since 2007 were off Southern California.
About 2,000 endangered blue whales sail California waters every season, with the 2013 season apparently just getting underway. As it seems, Delta is among the early arrivals.
It’s not clear whether the shape of this blue whale’s fluke is because of a birth defect, but the right tip appears to be more upturned than in previous years. Also, according to Douglas, the sex of this blue whale is not known.