People visiting Mission Bay Wednesday have a whale of a tale to tell.
A gray whale was spotted around 10 a.m. off Mission Point Park south of Mariner's Point near the entrance channel into Mission Bay.
The whale delighted onlookers, who gathered on the shore eager to catch a glimpse. Kayakers and boaters, including one lucky whale watching tour group, tried to get as close as possible.
"I saw the tail, saw when it arched up and you could see all the little ripples on its back," Abel Garcia said. "It was fascinating."
The gray whale had apparently gotten off course on its migration to Alaska. At one point, the whale swam close to the rocky shore and dodged several sailboats anchored in the bay. San Diego lifeguards followed the whale, guiding it back to the ocean.
Whale watching boat captain Chris Switzer said the whale was a juvenile.
"I would say that whale was eight feet, 10 feet tops," Switzer said.
The wayward whale eventually made it out of the bay. Experts say whales should have already arrived off the Alaskan coast by this time of year. The hope is the whale will continue moving north to Alaska so that it can feed and get ready for the trip back down the west coast to Mexico, which typically begins in December.