A baby gray whale, swimming just 40 yards from shore along Mission Beach, drew crowds Wednesday evening.
The whale was swimming by lifeguard Tower 17 near Manhattan Court for a few hours before being reuinted with its mother.
Surfer Kevin Murray said he was surprised to see a baby whale so close to the shore.
"It was just maybe checking us out. Having fun in Mission Beach like everybody else right?" he said.
San Diego lifeguards said they had been watching the eight to 12-foot-long whale for about an hour before they decided to alert SeaWorld regarding the mammal.
Lifeguards said the whale didn’t appear to be swimming closer to shore or further out to sea. Instead, the whale remained in one shallow spot about 40 yards from the shore for a while.
"They don't usually come in the surf like this animal did. There is a chance that they'd get stuck, get beached, and can't get back on their own," said Hendrik Nollens, SeaWorld veterinarian.
Lifeguards said they had reports of another bigger spout further out to sea and tried to determine if there was another adult whale in the vicinity. If so, they were hoping it was the mother trying to call this juvenile whale back out.
In the end, the whale continued to play near the surf for a couple hours before heading out toward adult whales.
Experts said it’s not unusual for whales to be in Mission Beach, especially since they're migrating from Mexico to Canada right now.
"So they come by San Diego... right past Mission Beach," Nollens said. "In this case it looks like the animal got separated from mom."
This past January, another whale was spotted swimming near the jetty in Mission Bay, surfacing several times near boats and a kayaker. That whale eventually reached the ocean.