While paddling off Laguna Beach recently, one lucky paddle boarder was in the right place at the right time to spot an elusive blue whale—an endangered marine mammal that’s rarely spotted. With a GoPro in hand, he was able to catch underwater and surface footage of the elusive marine mammal for the rest of us to see (check out segments at 2:00, 3:36 and 5:04 minutes in to see the underwater footage).
Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth, growing to at least 110 feet long and weighing up to 330,000 pounds. Despite their massive size, these gentle giants filter feed on tiny krill and are not predatory marine mammals. Unfortunately, blue whales declined extensively from commercial whaling during the late 1800s into the 1960s, and have been slow to recover since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1966. A study released earlier this month found that blue whales off California may be making a comeback with about 2,200 individuals existing off California.
Blue whales are now listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and endangered under the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Major threats to blue whales today include accidental encounters with vessels, interaction with commercial fisheries, anthropogenic noise, and a decline in their krill food source from commercial fishing.
Click here to learn more about blue whales and other marine animals on Oceana’s Marine Animal Encyclopedia.