Grey whale
Grey whale Creative Common

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the plight of a gray whale which appears to be stuck in the Klamath River in northern California.

The 45-foot mother whale swam three miles up the river inland with her 15-foot baby a month ago as a detour from their northward trek from breeding grounds in Baja California.

The whales should have reached Alaska by now to feed, marine biologists said.

In an attempt to drive the whales downstream, officials from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) as well as members of the local Yurok Tribe used noisy kayaks and power boats.

Sarah Wilkin, stranding coordinator for the NOAA, told The Times-Standard of Eureka, Calif.: “We wanted to give her as much time without intervention. [Now] we're going to use a little whale psychology to make upriver less desirable than downriver.”

While the baby eventually swam out into the ocean, the mother remains in the river. There are also fears that the mother whale is not getting enough food.

In addition, Wilkins said there are concerns that the mother whale could become trapped in the river as the water level shrinks, which occurs every summer. The presence of fishermen later in the summer season will also likely cause her more stress.

The Times-Standard of Eureka reported that the sight of the mother whale and baby moving up and down the Klamath river has created a unique opportunity for local people to see these huge creatures up close.

One resident told the paper:”It's really beautiful to watch [the mother whale] with her baby. She comes up here and talks with us.”