Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Whale of a Day

Yesterday, the whole family plus our bonus friend went to Santa Cruz to see whales.

But first, we saw sea lions. They looked, according to our youngest two, like "jumping olives."

The humpbacks aren't supposed to be here this late in the year.

A record anchovy run, caused by a warmer than usual fall, apparently has brought out the glutton in whales. What amazed me was that, even from a 60' boat, they looked pretty big from 100 yards away. They also seemed happily buddied-up, cruising along together and chomping surface fish.

These guys are probably younger males, resisting the call to go to Chile to breed because of two things (this is my surmise; I didn't check it out with the ├╝ber-professional naturalist): they probably don't have a really big chance to breed, being young guys -- I assume all the mamas are sewn up; and two, there's all this fish still here! Why not stay and eat? It reminds me of a softball team at a pizza joint.

The whale backs that show as they roll through the water are only a fraction of their size. Something like a tenth, according to the boat folks. 

Sometimes we'd turn and see them from the back as they swam away from us. They looked like draft horses -- huge around the middle. Just great animals, really gigantic.

And every once in a while, they'd say goodbye and dive.

We're super fortunate to be able to see migrating and feeding whales relatively near home. We didn't even have to leave the Monterey Bay. Gorgeous December weather, and a pretty drive. The kids were pretty tickled, and only two of our party suffered from the bumpy water, and both only at the tail end (hahaha) of the trip.

They suggested we come back -- a lot. I don't know that I would necessarily do it from a boat again, but watching the whales was pretty cool. And, quite frankly, I don't know how many more years this sort of stuff is going to happen -- the ocean feels kind of under siege lately. I'm glad we got to see it now.


kristin said...

Ho Ho Ho! An early Santa's gift to you and yours--an ocean safari, marine wildlife, right in our home state, CA. Your photo of the whale's tail (fluke) is fantastic! That's what I spotted this week from the deck of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, through a spotting scope. Being closer to them is really unique. I'm tickled to know creatures of that size are alive and doin' thar' ting' (so to speak in a semi-Caribbean lingo). Nature, nurture, life-cycles--that's the point.

Unknown said...

Wow--I'm so excited for you all! Whale watching is high up on my bucket list. What a fabulous show--lucky you! Hope you and your family had a lovely holiday!

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