Gray whale spotted in Ballard Locks appears 'emaciated,' official says; hotline set up if seen again

SEATTLE -- Visitors to Seattle's Ballard Locks on Wednesday caught a rare glimpse of a gray whale there after it found its way into the waters there.

Photos and videos caught the whale in the late morning and early afternoon.

John Calambokidis with Cascadia Research Collective said it was "highly unusual" for a whale to end up in the locks.

He said he hadn't seen the whale yet, but that as whales migrate north this time of year, some of the weaker among them who haven't found enough food can began acting erratically.

Michael Milstein with NOAA Fisheries said the whale has been in the area since March 21, and that the agency was monitoring the whale because it appeared emaciated and could be struggling to survive. He said that though the whale is in obvious distress, there's little they can do about it.

NOAA Fisheries said it has a network of volunteer groups who are trying to keep tabs on this whale's condition. If you spot the whale, you are asked to call NOAA's hotline at (206) 526-4747. 

One Q13 FOX viewer reported the whale was there by at least 6 a.m. Wednesday, and the Orca Network said it left around 1:40 p.m.

"I was hanging out having a picnic with my twin 3 year olds on the grass at the locks, and then we heard a bunch of people cheering on the bridge so came over to see what all the excitement was about," Carrie Yuan said in an email. "My kids were pretty much losing their mind!"

Milstein said the whale isn't impacting boat traffic in the area.

The U.S. Coast Guard said at 3 p.m. it wasn't aware of the whale, and that no other agency had alerted it to the whale's presence.