Whale Swims Up River in U.S., Heads Back to Sea
Seattle, Washington (Reuters)
An adventurous gray whale that had found its way several miles up a river north of Seattle appears to have turned round and found its way back to the ocean, wildlife officials said on Thursday.
The juvenile whale, about 20 feet in length, was found swimming up the Skagit River, about 60 miles north of Seattle, and was believed to be in a smaller river last week.
Seattle and the Skagit river are located about 100 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, but are connected to the larger body of water via Puget Sound.
"It appears to have left overnight," said Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "We were planning to send some folks to have a look this morning."
The whale, which did not appear to be sick or injured, probably ventured up the river while feeding, Gorman said.
Adult gray whales are between 40 and 50 feet in length and can weigh as much as 40 tons (41 tons), and pass by the region as they migrate between Mexico, where they breed, and Alaska, where they feed during the summer.
"It's within the normal range of behavior, but unusual," Gorman said.