"This is, at best, a straggler of the migration along the Pacific Coast," said John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research in Olympia.
"Most of the healthy animals have migrated past or else are feeding on the outer coast. The whales we see in Puget Sound in June and July are usually in poor condition," he told the Kitsap Sun.
"In some of the photos that I saw, the whale looked pretty emaciated," the biologist said, adding that a large patch of whale lice behind its blow hole might be covering some kind of injury. Whale lice are shrimplike creatures that feed on skin lesions.
The gray whale is about a year old and 20 to 25 feet long. Gray whales are rarely seen in south Puget Sound, about a 200-mile swim from the Pacific.
The whale attracted crowds to the shore of Burley Lagoon near Purdy but later made it out to Henderson Bay. It also was seen Tuesday in Budd Inlet near Olympia.
Anyone who sees the whale is asked to call Cascadia Research at 800-747-7329.