Friday, February 9, 2018

Whale watching wonders as glorious grays make their splendid journey

A gray whale breaches off San Diego's Point Loma.  The action isn't completely understood, but may be "spy hopping"
to get a physical reference from the land to anchor their journey enroute to Baja to mate, give birth and care for young. 

GENTLE GIANTS OF THE SEA PASS BY SAN DIEGO NOW -- LISTEN FOR A THRILLING 'THAR SHE BLOWS!'

  
One of a variety of Flagship vessels awaits passengers for a whale watch.
Happy Cookie and Keller at sea, on a successful Flagship
whale watching venture this week. Several adults and a calf!



A gray whale shoots to the surface
to gulp tons of crill for breakfast.
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

CALL US WHALE-watching junkies.  We answer the call whenever we're within 50 miles of a whale watching port -- anywhere in the world.
But when we're watching whales in various corners of the world -- Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland -- we always feel a bit guilty.
Why?  Because we have whales in our backyard -- beautiful migrating whales we can see from land or by boat.  We have the good fortune to follow them five or six times a year, here in southern California. We never take this wondrous opportunity for granted.
NOW'S THE TIME the great grays are heading south from the chilly Alaskan waters to either give birth, or fatten up their young and themselves in the welcoming warmth of the waters off Baja before returning to Alaska.
A quintet of a larger pod of dolphin ride the bow wave of our boat
as it pushes through the water in the ocean miles off Point Loma.
Birch Aquarium docents explain and offer a look at tiny crill
whales consume by the ton, through their baleen.
Southbound gray whales usually travel in pods of two or three and each year, more than 20,000 gray whales make an impressive 10,000 mile round-trip journey to the southern lagoons.
We lucky San Diegans may watch the journey close-up, so this time of year, look for us on the water -- often on Flagship, but also on a couple smaller venues. Sailor Keller has even piloted our own craft. But it's more fun for him to let someone else do the driving so he play photographer.
While we've observed the aquatic parade of gentle giants from land -- at the Torrey Pines Glider Port, Cabrillo National Monument, nearby lovely Birch Aquarium and from our favorite picnic spot in the La Jolla hills, we prefer spotting them on the water.
THEN WE SEE the rainbow in the spray from the blow and hear them breathing. We can even see the barnacles that grip their skin for a free ride -- and we can admire the baleen which acts as a food filter as they suck in the water and its contents, straining the protein rich fish called crill -- a small shrimp-like critter which is the gray's main nutrition.
Whale watching ships have articulate, passionate friends of the whale aboard.




The spray of a gray whale creates a beautiful rainbow. A mile away, we see the
 exhaled breath from a 40-foot gray whale. That's a thrill for whale watchers.

Flagship's are from Birch Aquarium.
THIS WEEK we saw about 10 whales -- in peak migration season -- each one about the width of a basketball court. They know we're nearby and don't seem to mind.
They travel at about five knots (about six miles per hour), so when a boat captain or passenger spots one, we slow down -- usually from about five or six miles out, although we've seen them at closer range. Someone hollers "thar she blows."
Flagship vessels offer wonderful whale watching as well as harbor cruises, holiday and dinner cruises, and a jet boat thrill ride.
 flagshipsd.com to book a thrill.

A group of small sailing tourist vessels await crew and 
passengers on a sight-seeing tour. The hill-top city is behind.






UP NEXT: 
Santorini has an ancient history and a famous tram, along with volcanic sites and two major villages set atop the mountains.  As one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, Santorini was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed,  houses are distinctive landmark.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, nature, family and the arts.  

5 comments:

  1. La Jolla Nature LoversFebruary 9, 2018 at 5:21 PM

    Wonderful. We will be out this Sunday on Flagship. Thanks for the nudge.

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  2. Fantastic photos and exciting prose. We are watching the humpbacks near Maui now.

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  3. Wow. We will by chance be there next week -- will book Flagship. Thanks for their contact info.

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  4. Glorious for sure. Great piece and photos.

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  5. Lovely commentary and beautifully rendered pictorial ode.

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