The Outside Blog


Gray Whale Nears Two Months in Klamath River

Gray Whale in Klamath River, Ashala TylorPhoto by Ashala Tylor (See more pictures and get more updates on her blog and Flickr)

When photographer Ashala Tylor heard a loud knock at her door early one morning in late June, she wasn't sure what to expect. Then her neighbor started yelling. "There's a whale in the river. There's a whale in the river."

She grabbed her camera and sprinted out the door towards the Klamath River, or, her backyard. She did not go back into her house for eight hours, even though the female gray whale and calf were swimming only 20 yards or so away.

Tylor is a professional photographer, and she's traveled all over the world's oceans trying to photograph whales. "I've never had the same opportunity to have one so close for such a long time."

According to Tylor, the whale has now been in the river near her California home for more than 50 days. She entered the river with her calf in late June, en route from Baja California to Alaska. On July 23 or 24, the calf was seen swimming back toward the ocean, but the mother remained.

Gray Whale in Klamath River   Photo by Ashala Tylor (See more pictures and get more updates on her blog and Flickr)

Scientists aren't sure exactly why the whale may have decided to stay in the river. (I'm still waiting on feedback from a few.) Worried about her health, they tried to scare her back to the sea by playing orca calls from speakers on a boat. That didn't work, and so they have resolved to study the cetacean while she remains. They've measured the gas concentrations as she breathes and noted the change in the appearance of her skin from so much time in fresh water. As they take notes, cars and tourists pile up on the bridge over the river. Boats motor a safe distance away from the 45-foot-long mammal. Stand up paddleboarders and kayakers venture closer. All the while, Tylor is there to take pictures.

Gray Whale in Klamath River   Photo by Ashala Tylor (See more pictures and get more updates on her blog and Flickr)

"From a photography standpoint, it's wonderful," she says. "But I wish she would find her way back out to the ocean."

"That's what everybody here is praying for right now."

--Joe Spring

to Outside
Save Over

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!






Previous Posts




Blog Roll

Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.