Volume 8, Issue 44  |  June 2, 2023Subscribe

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Fair Game


The amazing survival of the “Miracle Whale” seen off our coast

TJ headshot AugThe Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance hiking challenge spanning 2,653 miles and running from Mexico to Canada through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. It includes the highest portion of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, which both lie some 100-150 miles east of the Pacific coast. The Trail ranges from a low of some 110 ft. above sea level near the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington border to a high of 13,153 ft. up at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada.

One can only imagine what it would be like to hike it. 

Now, let’s say you were capable of that and wanted to do it, but before you did, you lost your leg. That would seem to make that trek now nearly impossible.

Fast-forward over to our local ocean area. According to Jessica Roame, who is the Education Manager for Newport Whales here in Newport Beach, there’s a Gray Whale off our coast that’s doing something nearly as impossible as that one-legged hike I mentioned above.

Earlier this month, folks with Newport Whales, which includes Newport Landing, Davey’s Locker & Newport Coastal Adventure, spotted and identified what’s being called the “Miracle Whale” off our local coast. Why is this particular whale a “miracle?” Well, it’s completely missing its fluke or, what would be more commonly identified as, its tail fin. 

It was first spotted around 10 a.m. on March 13, cruising along at what’s considered a normal pace of 3 mph, according to Jessica. She added that this “whale appeared able to make its migration from Alaska to Mexico and back, since this injury looks to be several years old.” That’s a 12,000-mile round trip migration from their feeding grounds in Alaska to their breeding grounds in Mexico and back again.

That would seem to be a miracle…hence the name.

Jessica says the whale might be a little underweight, but not dramatically so. And, she added that this type of injury was likely caused by its tail becoming tangled in commercial fishing gear, and eventually falling off. 

She added, “As horrible as this injury is, it’s incredible that this whale is determined to survive, and so far appears to be successful in doing so.”

Jessica forwarded pictures of the whale, as seen recently off the coast. To me, it’s a simply remarkable story and an example of a great will to survive.

Fair Game Whale with no tail sticking our of water photo 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by @NewportCoastalAdventure

The “Miracle Whale” submerging with the portion just above the fluke still exposed

Fair Game Whale with just a stub above water photo 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by @NewportCoastalAdventure

The whale just before it becomes completely submerged

How important is the fluke or tail fin? Well, when a whale dives it’s called fluking for a reason. The whale begins their deep dive by lifting the fluke into the air to help thrust its body into a more steeply angled descent into deeper waters. This allows the whale to successfully forage for food.

And, on the flip side, when a whale’s body leaves the water (think Pacific Life TV commercials here), they use their fluke to do so. For Gray Whales, they only sometimes breach, but when they do so, it can cause a big enough splash that can often be seen from several miles away.

For a second, imagine what challenges this whale experiences in attempting to do any of this. 

 Jessica wanted me to remind you all that Newport Landing, Davey’s Locker & Newport Coastal Adventure operate daily whale watching tours out of the Newport Harbor. You may check them out on Instagram @Newportwhales and @NewportCoastalAdventure.

And, although there are no guarantees, perhaps a trip in the near future will lead to another sighting of the “Miracle Whale.”

• • •

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 1) is the 8th Annual: Mayor’s Egg Race that takes place on the Civic Center Lawn from 10 a.m-12 p.m. Besides the egg races, which obviously is the centerpiece attraction, there will also be bounce houses, games, train rides, crafts and plenty of photo opportunities.

Take the kids, it’s fun! And, it’s all free.

Heck, and with the price of eggs these days, you might as well take advantage of what the Easter Bunny is offering up at no charge.

• • •

Last issue I wrote about tourism and jokingly mentioned an idea for a T-shirt related to tourism. Wendy Frankel, who lives on the Peninsula, countered back with a T-shirt idea of her own, saying “Please be nice to a local. This is our home.”

Touché! Point well taken.

• • •

Next Thursday, April 6, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce will feature Chapman President Daniele Struppa, Ph.D. at their April WAKE UP! Newport. The morning meeting runs from 7-8:30 a.m. in the Friends Room of the Newport Beach Public Library.

Dr. Struppa will offer up the successes of Chapman’s 2018-2022 strategic plan as well as discuss the university’s next five-year plan.

The meeting is free, but because a complimentary continental breakfast kicks things off, the chamber would appreciate an RSVP to plan for food.

• • •

If you are a young professional looking to connect and make a difference in our community and interested in learning about the key components that form the foundation of the City of Newport Beach, today is the deadline to sign up for Newport Beach Foundation’s Distinguished Citizen Program. The spring class meets on five evenings – May 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 from 5:30-8 p.m. Applicants must live or work in Newport Beach. For more information and to apply, go here

• • •

On Tuesday, April 4, join community members and the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the CVS Pharmacy at 9 a.m., welcoming them to the village. Enjoy a DJ spinning tunes, free swag, snacks and refreshments, discounts and a tour of the facility, complete with presentations and photos. The CVS Pharmacy is located at 3049 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, next to Mother’s Market.

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