Whale watching is in revival. The last two years have seen a sharp increase in whale sightings during the migration season and the excitement is palpable in the waters off Long Beach. As we set sail last week, an excited Captain told us, “It’s the best whale watching in 30 years.”
A new partnership between Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Aquarium of the Pacific has resulted in terrific whale watching opportunities for the public, as well as new data being provided to the scientific community. Well -trained naturalists give lots of insight into what you’re seeing as you cruise the spectacular water off our coastline.
For a family, it’s an adventure for all ages. Drive to the docks, for a two-hour cruise. You meet outside the Aquarium and board one of Harbor Breeze Cruises sleek catamarans built specifically for whale watching. With an experienced Captain and an expert naturalist on board, you leave the harbor passing the Queen Mary, which is always fun, and then into the open waters where the LA river meets the Pacific Ocean. This is directly in the path of the migration.
I’d been whale watching before and seen nothing, so this was particularly exciting. We saw not only a huge Fin Whale which it turns out is distinguishable by the tiny size of the fin on it’s back, but also saw two Grey Whales (one pregnant) and we were able to follow the greys and watch them for a long time. That’s what’s cool: you follow their migration path, learn to spot their “footprint” and even help the ship’s captain in spotting them. The first sign of a whale is the water spout. On top of that we were treated to pods of jumping dolphins of every size and shape and sea lions basking in the sun. It was much more of an adventure than I’d had before on a boat simply because we were actually finding things.
The gasps would go up. The kids would scream. We’d all rush from one side of the boat to the other to see the whales spout, rise up and go down. There was a pattern to their travel that I never really understood before, the way they dive in and out of the water in rhythm and if you’re lucky, they occcasionaly dive in such a way that you see their tail.
The whale watching season is from December to early May, so now is a great time to go. Dress warmly. Not LA warmly, but actually warmly, I had thin little gloves and a weak sweatshirt and was cold. You really need to bundle for the brisk ocean air. You can plan the day just around the whale watching if you’ve done the Aquarium many times before, or you can get a price package that includes the Aquarium and you can make a day of it.
Cruises leave daily from 12:00 to 3:00 and tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 562-590-3100. Pricing includes admission to Aquarium, so you can make a day of the adventure.
For more information visit the Aquarium of the Pacific or www.2seewhales.com — read the Aquarium blog before you go for up to the moment information on sightings. Killer whales are being seen lately (winter 2015)- click here.