An injured right whale that took a wrong turn ended up in the Delaware River, swimming in slow circles as rescuers Sunday tried to steer it back toward the Atlantic.
The young mammal, which may have been separated from its mother, strayed north into Delaware Bay instead of moving south for its winter migration.The whale's head was bleeding from an apparent run-in with a boat during its 80-mile trek from the mouth of the bay at Lewes, Del., to Philadelphia, where it was first spotted Saturday.
"Or it could have been hit out in the ocean, possibly resulting in some disorientation. That may be why it's here," said Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Unit in Brigantine, N.J.
The whale appeared to be lethargic and could be hungry, Schoelkopf said from a police boat. He said it appeared to be about a year old.
The whale was near the Philadelphia Navy Base and generally moving south.
"That's a good sign. If it continues moving in this direction, it could make it back to open water and possibly survive," Schoelkopf said.
Officials discouraged would-be whale watchers, warning boat and helicopter operators they could face $25,000 fines, imprisonment and seizure of their vessels if they came closer than about a quarter mile.