Delta the blue whale on the move

Delta’s fab flukes / Photo credit: Dinah Garcia

On July 22. 2013, Delta was spotted off Los Angeles County’s coast by whale watchers traversing the great blue sea with Harbor Breeze Cruises based in Long Beach.

Who is Delta you ask? Well, Delta happens to be a blue whale with a very distinct tail. As you can see in the photo, both ends of her (or him, no one really knows) tail stick straight up! Upon first hearing the nickname Delta, I kept wondering what it meant…maybe some really deep thinker and whale watcher came up with it because the tail is shaped like the bottom of a triangle, just like Delta, the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet…I will spare you the rest of this insane thought tail spin (pun intended).

Thankfully Pete Thomas, wrote an article about Delta in April 2013 and cleared up the name mystery, it turns out the shape of the whale’s tail reminded people of the wings on an airplane, hence the nickname Delta. (It’s not clear if the whale has received any endorsement deals from Delta.) Pete also takes time in his article to explain that there are actually two whales with this tail shape that have been spotted off California’s coast and to know which Delta you’ve spotted requires an expert eye from whale researchers at Cascadia Research Collective. For the sake of this post, we will just be enjoying the sight of these fabulous flukes and leave the exact corresponding catalog # to those who feel so inclined.

My fellow whale watcher, Dinah Garcia, was fortunate enough to be aboard Harbor Breeze Cruises when Delta was spotted and generously shared her photos (thanks Dinah!). Dinah got some amazing shots and explained in an email to me that Delta was the only blue whale they saw on the trip, so she is 100 percent sure that all the photos are of Delta whether her tail was in the air or not. And Delta gave them quite the show.

Also, it turns out that Delta gets around, she was spotted in Monterey not long before showing up in SoCal. Does this mean she really can fly? Maybe for the next evolutionary leap whales are skipping a transition back to land and are headed straight for the air!

Delta blowing bubbles / Photo credit: Dinah Garcia

Delta’s exhale / Photo credit: Dinah Garcia

Delta’s fab flukes / Photo credit: Dinah Garcia

Delta’s fab flukes / Photo credit: Dinah Garcia


  1. says

    Salas said a KNBC-TV news crew had joined him to shoot video of blue whales. They were looking for Hook, a whale missing half a tail, and Delta, whose tail turns upward like a plane wing.

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