Critically Endangered Whale Spotted Off California Coast In Rare Sighting
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Critically Endangered Whale Spotted Off California Coast In Rare Sighting: See Photo

It was a rare sight for onlookers in California. A critically endangered whale made a rare appearance, showing up near the California Coast. A marine wildlife team spotted a North Pacific right whale near Point Reyes

Jenna Malek, North Pacific right whale recovery coordinator and marine mammal specialist, told Fox News Digital about the discovery.

"This is very exciting for us because we know very little about where these whales go when they're not in Alaska," Malek said. "So this helps us to better understand some of the areas that they might be frequenting, what time of year they might be there and what type of activities they are doing."

What makes this so special? Well since the 1970s, there have only been 15 reported sightings of the creature in California and only a few overall. The species is rare due to its dwindling numbers. However, they are different than other species thanks to their V-shaped blow.

Whale Spotted In Rare Sighting

"These are white patches of rough skin that have things like barnacles on them, and those are actually what we use to identify individual right whales, because it's sort of like a fingerprint," Malek said. "So the pattern doesn't change as the whale ages, and so we could get a picture of that and say, 'Oh, we've sighted this whale previously based on this information.'"

The whale appeared to be resting on the surface. "This whale just seemed to be taking it easy because it wasn't moving ... and so, because of that slow breath pace and the lack of movement in any given direction, it's likely that it was resting or sleeping," Malek said.

Right whales have very low populations. There are less than 50 in the eastern population and only 300 to 400 worldwide.

"There's a population that's on the western side of the North Pacific off of Russia and Japan, and this population is doing a little bit better than the ones we have here off the coast of the U.S. and Canada, but we don't know enough about them," the marine specialist added. "We have not been able to identify any definitive migratory pathway or breeding and calving area for the North Pacific right whales, and that includes looking at historical whaling logs."