Last Wednesday afternoon I watched Pacific Gray Whales linger very near shore for more than an hour at the mouth of the Russian River.
One explanation for their behavior was that mom and baby whale were enjoying a leisurely bath in the relatively warm water flowing out of the river.
An additional explanation is suggested by the video below. It show a mother Pacific Gray Whale and her calf under attack by a pod of Orcas in Monterey Bay.
This event, which occurred on Saturday, April 23, lasted more than an hour. The calf did not survive the attack. Predation by Orcas on Gray Whale calves in not common. It occurs only by a transient pod of Bigg’s Killer Whales and, as far as anyone knows, only here in the Eastern Pacific.
It would seem to be easier for a mother whale to defend her calf from attack in shallow water right along the shore. If the mother whale kept her calf on her right side going up the coast, Orcas could not attack from below nor from the side along the shore.
This clip is less than four minutes long and, while interesting, is not easy to watch. Viewer discretion advised.
Thanks to Richard James, The Coastodian, for making me aware of this video.