Humpback Whale Trapped In Ventura Harbor Swims Free

Imagine for a second you are a humpback whale who ordinarily lives in the chilly, yet sustaining open waters off of North America's west coast. You spend your days gliding around the sea, filtering krill and small fish through your baleen. Sometimes you spot some silly little animals on silly little boats aiming silly little video camcorders at you. But, for the most part, you keep to yourself, pleasantly content to filter feed the time away.

Imagine, then, the horror of finding yourself suddenly trapped in a tight marina, surrounded by narrow channels filled with dozens boats and hardly enough space to turn around. Worse still, you have no way of knowing how to get back out to the open ocean.

This is precisely what happened earlier this weekend in Ventura Harbor, where a roughly 35-foot humpback whale spent the greater part of Saturday circling around the harbor, confused and unsure of how to get out, according to KABC.

KNBC Channel 4 reports that the whale was first spotted in the harbor at about 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, at which wildlife experts from multiple agencies began working to try and get the whale out. As it swam through murky, shallow water, the whale reportedly struck the harbor's dock a number of time, and hit the back of at least one boat.

"It was heartbreaking. I mean, to see an animal like that—in distress—and not being able to really do anything meaningful. All the stuff that we were trying was exactly that, just trying the best that we could to respect the animal and not try to further agitate it," said John Higgins, a harbor master for the Ventura Port District, to KABC.

What eventually did the trick was the hydrophone, a sort of underwater speaker that wildlife
officials used to pipe humpback whale sounds in the harbor. Harbor authorities placed the hydrophone near the entrance of Ventura's harbor, and left it there over night in hopes the whale would find the way out on its own.

When the sun rose, and after rescue workers searched the harbor for the whale, officials with the Ventura Harbor Patrol were happy to report the whale had safely exited the harbor overnight.

Good news, in a world filled with so much bad.