'Diego' last spotted near open ocean

The young gray whale that wandered into the San Diego Bay 28 days ago has not been seen since Saturday.

"Diego," as he's been dubbed by fans, was first spotted in the bay on March 10, cruising near Shelter Island. The last sighting was Saturday, off Ballast Point, near open ocean, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

While here, Diego became quite the tourist attraction. Anthony's Fish Grotto on the Embarcadero was one popular viewing spot.

"We wish him well ... and hope he will come back next year,'' Anthony's manager, Valaree Gilmore, told the Union-Tribune.

The leviathan, believed to be 1 or 2 years old, may have been migrating by itself for the first time when it took a detour into the harbor, NMFS biologist Joe Cordaro said.

Gray whales, which can reach more than 50 feet, travel some 10,000 miles on their annual migration from the lagoons of Baja California, where they calf and mate in wintertime, to Alaskan waters, where they spend summers.

Around the end of February, southbound stragglers mix with others already heading north, Cordaro said.

It is not altogether uncommon for whales to stray from their migration routes. In 1992, a roughly 35-foot gray spent about two weeks in San Diego Bay before being found dead with a gash to its head, apparently having been struck by a boat.

   
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