Whale enjoys spa moment yards from beach; beachgoers seem oblivious (video)

Whale enjoys spa moment yards from beach; beachgoers seem oblivious (video)

Outdoors

Whale enjoys spa moment yards from beach; beachgoers seem oblivious (video)

It’s that time of year off a popular stretch of Southern California coastline when large whales could be swimming just yards from the beach and passersby may not be aware of their presence.

The accompanying footage shows a northbound gray whale lazily frolicking in gentle surf, occasionally rolling over to rub its back against the sand, beyond a nearly deserted beach in Newport Beach.

People strolling near water’s edge don’t seem to notice the leviathan, which appears to be enjoying a spa moment.

Gray whale exhales off Newport Beach before enjoying a roll on the sandy bottom in this video screen grab

The aerial footage was captured by Mark Girardeau for Newport Coastal Adventure. Capt. Ryan Lawler writes in the company’s Facebook description: “Have you ever been swimming at the beach and wondered what’s lurking out there on the other side of the waves? This time of year, it could be a 30′ long Gray Whale!”

During the northbound migration, which runs from late February through April and involves about 25,000 gray whales, a handful of protected stretches from Laguna Beach to Newport Beach offer refuge for whales to rest and roll in the sand. (The whales are returning from Baja California nursing lagoons to Arctic feeding grounds.)

“I would say as many as one out of 10 northbound gray whales typically stop here to take a break in this sandy stretch,” Lawler told USA Today, in reference to the spot where he captured last week’s footage. “We’ve seen them doing several things, from picking up sandy things in their mouths to simply rolling around ‘itching’ themselves on the bottom. Typically it’s in 15 feet or less of water.”

The scene is reminiscent of an incredible scene last August at the Montage Laguna Beach resort, to the south, when a smaller out-of-season gray whale mingled just a few feet from swimmers who seemed oblivious to its presence. That video (second video accompanying this post) garnered more than 2 million views.

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