Friday, January 8, 2010

The Sun Sets on Our LA Stay with a Whale of an Experience

After a long day at The Getty on Sunday, we decided we would take Monday to pack for our Tuesday departure. BUT that evening the local news reported several large fin and gray whales had been spotted off the coast near Santa Catalina Island. We called Valerie and Richard and, after an Internet search, they found a whale watching trip out of Redondo Beach for only $15. Oh well, it really does not take us that long to pack and since we were only traveling to San Diego we decided to go for it. We just love the flexibility of this lifestyle.

Monday dawned with partly cloudy skies and warm temps. We boarded the Voyager with much anticipation and as we sailed out of the harbor the guides pointed out the usual assortment of seals, sea lions and birds. Next, was the largest pod of dolphins we have ever seen who jumped, porpoised, and surfed in the water while being pushed along by the boat. Real nice but we have seen lots of dolphins over the years and thought we were in for a disappointing trip as the boat circled.
Nanc and Val on the Pacific looking for whales with the s**w covered mountains in the far background. On shore the temperature was warm but being on the water made it feel a lot cooler.
Three dolphins enjoy a ride at the bow of the boat. The water was so clear you could see them below the surface.
Suddenly, off in the distance toward Santa Catalina Island a "small" dark form broke the surface.
As we moved closer it became apparent that this was the biggest creature we have ever seen.
It was not possible to capture the entire whale in one picture. It would first announce its presence with the sound of blowing air. (See Video below)
The front would then disappear and the fin would break the surface. The tail never came out of the water but everyone agreed it was between 50 and 60 feet. The guides identified it as a fin whale, the second largest in the whale family. Here is a site with info on the fin whale. Notice how far it is from the blow hole to the fin and then to the fluke. This should help give you an idea of the size of this whale.
At one point, as the boat idled, the whale slowly circled us as if it was giving us the once over. You could clearly see its massive shape. One of the swimming fins was about as long as I am tall. It surfaced less than 25 feet of the boat. People always ask what is the best thing we have done while fulltiming and this day has to be right up there near the top of the list. As a disclaimer, none of these photos have been enlarged beyond the original. We were really close!!!
After seeing the whale we relaxed and enjoyed the other animals on our return to port. This pair of brown pelicans was just gliding along with the boat.
A sea lion on its back basking in the sun.
The sea lions were rocking the buoy so much they were ringing the bell.
After a great day to end our stay in LA LA Land, we celebrated with a drink while watching the sun set into the Pacific. We swear we could hear it sizzle as it dropped into the water :) A wonderful ending to a wonderful stay.
Below is a short video that Richard shot. Listen carefully at the beginning and you can hear the whale's "thar she blows" moment and some woman's comment may sum up what we saw and felt.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Exceptional post. Well written and adding the button for the whale info and the video, a simple well done!