Last week Christian and I joined a few friends on a whale watching boat tour out of Dana Point Harbor. I’ve always considered whale-watching to a bit of a touristy thing, because after all I have seen whales feeding just off the shore in Laguna Beach. Dolphins and sea lions are not uncommon, especially if you go to the beach a lot. But I was convinced to do this trip because it was half-price ($17/ two hours) and because there were three other moms I liked already going. I am very glad I went.
We saw whales almost immediately. In fact, we saw a mother-baby duo, that was just so sweet, because they would come up to spout simultaneously. We spent quite a bit of time chugging parallel to these guys and watching them breach over and over again. Apparently, Mom was bringing baby home to the Bering Strait after having birthed in the warm winter waters of Mexico. These gray whales do an annual roundtrip migration of 6000 miles: the longest known migration of any mammal.
But, as is typical of whale watching, we saw a lot of whale back and some spouting water. It was exciting, because they were WHALES, but this cow-calf combo were serious about traveling north and weren’t pausing to do any feeding or fluke slaps to entertain us.
Luckily, our captain is a real dolphin-lover and he caught wind on his radio about a large pod of common dolphins. Sounded fun, but I had no idea what kind of treat we were in for. The pod was huge! More dolphins in one place than I have ever seen before. They were going nuts all around us, diving and arching out of the water in pairs and trios. These common dolphins were smaller too, than I’d ever seen before – each one was only about the length of my arm, so it looked like miniature dolphins putting on a show. The captain explained that common dolphins were rarely seen in captivity because they simply needed the large pod community to thrive and that they often existed in pods of thousands. This pod, the captain speculated was closer to 500 and was probably an offshoot of a larger pod nearby.
It was incredible. I am getting shivers thinking about it. They were so graceful, free, and happy. Perfect, really.
P.S. Our trip was through Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. I believe they offer half-price trips every Tuesday.