SAN DIEGO — A beluga whale was spotted Friday off San Diego — the farthest south the species has been documented on the West Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed.
The beluga, last seen Friday afternoon west of Point Loma, was more than 2,000 miles from its typical range in the Arctic, NOAA Fisheries spokesman Michael Milstein told FOX 5 Saturday in an email.
“We are assessing the reports and reviewing the photos collected to date and will continue to monitor the whale to assess its health and welfare if it remains in the area,” Milstein said.
He said the whale’s origin was not yet known, “but there are different populations in the Pacific that could be possibilities.” He added that belugas sometimes spend part of the summer months in warmer waters, but not nearly as far south as San Diego.
NOAA asked the public to keep a lookout for the whale and if it is observed, to stay 100 yards away, note the location and call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
“A team is standing by to respond if it is sighted again,” Milstein said.
Beluga whales are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.