Thursday, August 04, 2011

Whale Watching
Casey and Paul gamely hang onto their cookies
Monterey Bay is a mecca for sealife. It's one of the best places in the world to go whale watching, and while we've been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium any number of times we've never gone whale watching before. Paul set it all up and off we went.
Kayakers were having fun spotting Sea Otters in the water next to them.
So the naturalist on the boat who pointed out sea life and told us interesting things taught us to look for three B's when going whale watching: Birds, lots of them feeding in an area, since they would indicate lots of food interesting to birds and fish and whales, Boats, like the one we were on, who were cruising slowly around or motionless and not fishing, and Blows, as in whales blowing water from their airholes and taking breaths. 
Nope, no whales yet- not out to sea far enough yet.
Lots of giant jelliyfish in the water as we drive by.

Plenty of pelicans and other seabirds around, fishing.
 So we went out for a long way, until you couldn't see any land at all and everyone was a bit queasy from all the rolling and motion, before we saw any action.
Casey's face when asked how he was feeling.
We found another boat circling around out in the middle of nowhere and we slowed down to look around as well, and lo and behold:
We found a family group of four humpback whales, 2 adults and 2 youngsters. They were quite obliging and hung around and showed off a bit for us.
 Once they do a big tail flip they are generally going down deep and may not come back up for about 10 minutes or more, so it becomes a game of cat and mouse to try to figure out where they will surface next. The whale watching boats also have to be careful not to get too close and not to harass the whales. The goal is to be able to watch them without altering their behavior in any way, though it seems clear that the whales are very aware of the boats hanging around; they almost seem to play with the boats a bit, though I know that sounds anthropomorphic.
Riley and I ended up spotting the whales by their blows several times before other people; we were really enjoying it all. Casey and Paul were having trouble with queasiness the whole time, so they were less thrilled.
Sharp-eyed Riley
We were told that there were a couple of rather rare Basking Sharks hanging around on vacation in the Monterery Bay, so we kept a sharp lookout, and Riley was the first to spot one.
Top fin of the Basking Shark- it was huge- about the size of one of the whales we spotted.
Pelicans on the wing, low on the water
Paul was a good sport despite nausea.
Watching the Basking Shark passing very close to the boat.
Riley describing how he spotted the shark.
So eventually we headed back to shore, where we staggered off the boat along with all of our fellow passengers and went along the pier in search of some late lunch and a place to sit that wasn't moving. :)
Riley and I would do it again in a heartbeat; Paul and Casey might think twice. I do love the fact that you can still go out to sea and spot whales living their lives, raising their babies. I admit it gives me hope for the planet for some reason.


  1. That sounds like so much fun. Whales are really beautiful too.

  2. Sounds like fun. I with I could get The Harolds to do it, but they are have no spirit of adventure for stuff like that. *sigh*