5.9k Share this

On March 13, 1972 a gray whale called Gigi was released into the open ocean about four miles off Point Loma after a year in captivity. Gigi had been captured for scientific study at the gray whale breeding and calving grounds off the coast of Baja California and brought to SeaWorld in San Diego.

After a year the whale could no longer fit in SeaWorld’s largest tank, and was released, despite worries that the mammal would not be able to fend for herself in the open ocean.

After briefly appearing disoriented and swimming in circles, Gigi was tracked as far as San Clemente. A radio transmitter implanted on Gigi’s back did not work as planned.

The last confirmed sighting of Gigi in the wild came in 1977.


From the Evening Tribune, Monday, March 13, 1972:


Gigi takes to open seas, frolics with other whales

By Bob Corbett, Evening Tribune Science Writer

Gigi the gray whale was released at 9:51 a.m. today after a year’s captivity. She was placed in a pod of about 20 other gray wales four miles west of Point Loma.

The 14,000-pound marine mammal dived and swam with the pod, relieving the minds of about 50 scientists and newsmen watching from a distance.

Many feared Gigi —captured when only a few weeks old — would have no knowledge of the ocean.

There also was the chance she would stick to the release vessel — as a calf to its mother.

Gigi stayed down for six minutes on her first dive. When she surfaced, the instrument pack on her back did not completely emerge from the sea and did not send a signal.

Ten she dived an surfaced again at 10:06 a.m. The instrument package gave off a strong signal as she moved away from the release vessel.

Instrumentation at noon indicated the whale had dropped hyperventilating —breathing hard, as she had done in transit — and was breathing normally. She seemed to be moving in a southwest direction, circling and trying to get her bearings.

Gigi was lifted in a huge sling at Sea World early today and taken by truck to the Naval Undersea Research and Development Center (NUC) on Point Loma.

She was placed on a barge and pulled to sea by tugboat. Sea World and NUC scientist wanted to get her among other gray whales before releasing her.

They sighted a big pod off Mission Beach and turned the mammal loose.

Normally a passive creature, Gigi displayed some emotion at NUC as she was placed in a foam-rubber-lined cradle on the barge, snorting and bucking her great hulk several times.

Her handlers, Bud Donahoo and Sue Bailey, had to comfort her to settle her down.

However, Donahoo and Kym Murphy, a marine biologist and director of laboratories at Sea World, said that, overall, Gigi made the first leg trip from Sea World to NUC with little fuss.
Whether Gigi will be accepted back into the world of the whale or fend for herself in a hostile ocean after a year in the tame tanks of Sea World is a matter of conjecture.

Dr. William C. Evans of NUC, director of the release program, and Dr. William E. Schevill of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said yesterday a a press conference that they just weren’t sure how the animal would react when she entered the ocean.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

5.9k Share this
You May Also Like
Disney celebrates National Streaming Day with drone show over downtown Los Angeles

Disney celebrates National Streaming Day with drone show over downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — Disney kicked off the celebrations for National Streaming Day…
Video released by the Osceola County Sheriff's Office taken from Deputy David Crawford's perspective, shows him initiating the arrest of Jean Barreto at a local gas station Wawa

Bodycam of cop setting dirt bike rider alight shows officer shouting ‘kill the pump, there’s gas’

Newly released body camera footage reveals the sickening moment a deputy and…
Eyes for someone else? Travis is seen looking away in a 2018 flashback photo that Kourtney recently posted

Kourtney Kardashian dons black dress for garter toss, cuddles Travis Barker at wedding after party

They’re saying ‘I do’ for a third time this weekend in Portofino,…
Sealed with a kiss! Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker shared a passionate kiss as they got married for the third time, in a romantic ceremony in Portofino on Sunday evening

Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker share a passionate kiss after exchanging their vows

Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker shared a passionate kiss as they got married…
Producer Nathan Avery Edwards - who goes professionally by Avery Drift - 26, died in the fire

Sharon Osbourne thanks rapper Jamal Rajad for saving her daughter Aimee’s life from studio fire 

Sharon Osbourne thanked rapper Jamal Rajad for helping save her daughter Aimee’s life…

‘Coupon Kid’ Jordon Cox talks to ME & MY MONEY

Discounts: Jordon was saving £10,000 a year using coupons aged 16 On…

China Sends Its Most Powerful Bombers near Japan as Biden Arrives in Asia

China’s military deployed its “most powerful bombers” to conduct drills near Taiwan…

Queen of larks! Unearthed home movies show Her Majesty in her younger days frolicking with family

Queen of larks! Unearthed home movies show Her Majesty in her younger…