News • January 07, 2023

CBU student captures footage of gray whale and newborn calf

Courtesy of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

Riverside, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2023) – On Jan. 2, whale watchers off the coast of Dana Point, California, got a treat of seeing a gray whale with her new baby. A senior at California Baptist University, Matt Stumpf, captured the drone footage of the mother whale and calf, which millions saw as it was aired on numerous news stations, including NPR and Fox News.
 
Stumpf captured the footage for the tour company, Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari.

 The boat staff noticed the whale, which should have been migrating south, was swimming erratically, Stumpf said. Then they saw blood in the water. At first they thought something was wrong, but then a co-worker said the whale was giving birth.

“My reaction was certainly awe, but then I went into business mode — get the drone up to get everything framed, get what needs to be in the shot,” he said.

Stumpf has worked for Capt. Dave’s for almost three years. He has been going out on tours with the company since he was 5, usually two to three times a year and as often as eight.

“I wanted to work for them because it’s where you can see amazing things and get paid to do it,” the liberal arts student said. “Second off, in a way it’s like a second family of mine.”

He usually works as first mate, which includes getting the boat ready for an outing, being a spotter for the ocean life and narrating the trip for the passengers.

Stumpf also learned how to operate drones for the job. He has captured footage of killer whales, humpback whales, false killer whales and thousands of dolphins. Some of that footage also has been featured on news outlets. One of his favorite moments was when he captured film of a baby blue whale jumping and spinning and checking out the boat.

“I love the animals, but [filming them] starts making them a lot less abstract. And between all the baby encounters, I just am seeing strikingly human moments. They play, they're curious about their surroundings and moms corral them in,” Stumpf said.

He is currently working on earning his captain’s license.

“You get to see these amazing animals on a daily basis,” Stumpf said. “Additionally, you get to meet new people and show them this big, wonderful world and how truly not alone we are in it.”