I recently took a trip out on the California coast exclusively to go whale watching. I don’t take this opportunity very often, at least not for the express purpose of whale watching, because I spend so much time on the water for scuba diving. Often times, whales will appear while we are crossing the channel to dive at Catalina, and sometimes they will appear just off the coast when we are diving at the beach. But this day, was dedicated to finding and photographing the whales that migrate past our coast annually.
We first came upon a small pod of fin whales. This is not a common whale in California, but there are a few. They are characterized by a tall dorsal fin. Fin whales can get up to 90 feet long and are the second largest mammal, next to the blue whale. They are enormous and yet their slender torpedo-like bodies glide gracefully through the water.
Since Fin Whales can hold their breath for a long time, we soon moved on, looking for other interesting sea creatures. We soon came upon a pod of three Gray Whales, aka Knuckle-back Whales. They are characterized by a bumpy back that looks like knuckles. Gray whales are much smaller than Fin whales, getting to about 50 feet long. They have gray and white mottling on their skin from scars or parasites that have dropped off. They lack a dorsal fin and have flukes that measure around 9-10 feet across.
Last highlight of the day was a large playful pod of dolphins. These I get to see regularly as they love to swim along the bow of a boat. This particular boat had a viewing pod. Although the photograph is a little unclear, it was fun to see these dolphins racing along under the boat.
In this image, a dolphin comes up for air while it’s companion is just under the surface.
A big thank you to Captain Dave’s Whale Watching Safari for a fun day out on top of the water. If you are ever in Dana Point, California, I would highly recommend their operation. You can click on their name for a link to their website.