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Captain's Blog Archive: Summer 2008

Ten Whales Today

7/25/2008

7/19/2008

This BLUE WHALE SAFARI was so thrilling!!!  We saw 10 of them at different times, and lots of dolphins too!!!  Captain Mike took us to a place where the Blues were relaxing, just hanging out.  They appeared curious and playful.  We would follow them, then they would follow us!  At one point, we had 3 of them a few armfuls away from the bowsprit, blowing their spouts and bubbles--checking us out as we squealed with delight! 

CAPTAIN MIKE is awesome.  If the whales are around, he'll find them for us.  Thank you, Captain Mike!!!

Laura

First Blue Whale Trip of 2008
7/7/2008

     The first Blue Whale Safari of the 2008 migratory season ventured out on Saturday, June 28th; and the Blues were literally waiting in the front yard!  The Sea Explorer untied from her dock at 0800, and our first sighting was at 0835, only 2.2 miles outside the harbor.  Now, finding a Blue is only half the battle:  If the whale is travelling instead of feeding, it is nearly impossible to get a good look.  You never know for certain until the Blue goes for a dive then re-surfaces.  If it's in the same spot, it's feeding; and if it's a mile away, it's on it's way to greener pastures.  We watched our first Blue take six huge breaths--phenomenal--then, on the seventh, it kicked it's flukes high into the air and disappeared.  The Blue sounded not 40 feet from our bow!  Thirty cameras fired in rapid bursts, their clicks mixed with the screams of our passengers.  I started my stopwatch and crossed my fingers.  Seven minutes later the Blue surfaced only 150 feet away.  She was a "feeder" for sure, dining on krill 200 feet down.  This time, she lay on the surface for nearly 3 minutes, panting, saturating her lungs in preparation for her next dive.  With her final breath, her flukes towered high in the air before slipping beneath.

     We stayed with this whale for an hour, and on two occasions she passed within 30 feet of the boat.  We left to search for a "feed zone", where we might find many blues feeding together.  Common dolphin accompanied us through much of the day, as did Risso's dolphin.  We found a nursery pod of Risso's which contained 5 "cows", or females, but also had 6 "calves"!  One cow clearly had 2 baby Risso's.  Twins are a big question mark in the whale world, but we were able to document an instance of one Risso with 2 babies; but it is possible that she was caring for it in the absence of the biological mother. 

     At 1100, ten miles off of San Onofre, we found an area with several whales, although they were not feeding together.  We picked one with a towering blow and motored toward her.  As I idled closer, she stopped and floated, unmoving, as if waiting for a better look at us.  Was she curious?  Yes!  We crept closer, until the passengers on the bow were pointing their cameras straight down to photograph her.  We drifted together, boat and whale, for another moment until she did one lazy beat of her flukes, moving her about 30 feet.  I did the same with one propeller, then shifted back to neutral.  We flirted again for another minute, then repeated the dance 4 more times.  For the next hour, we exhausted all film and memory on the boat; and although she never rubbed on our hull, I'm sure she was thinking about it!

     We returned to the dock at about 3pm, and considering that I have 3 more Safaris this summer, I'm not sure what to do for an encore.

Orcas off the Dana Point Coast
6/17/2008

Last week Dana Point was lucky enough to be graced with the presence of these amazing creatures. I know that I was completely ecstatic and speechless, as well as Captain Mike and the Boys and Girls Club Group that came out to see the Orcas. I sent some pictures in to the Orcas.net group and they were able to ID them based on some of our pictures as well as a couple other people who were on the Dana Pride...it amazes me that the pod we saw was a family including an alpha female and her offspring and their offspring. Just reading that makes me feel so honored to have been able to see these creatures and have them open themselves up to 40 people, allowing us to watch their intimate family behaviors, how they interact with one another and how they would teach the baby new socialization.

-Ashleigh

First Sighting of a Blue Whale
5/20/2008
The blue whales are back!   Sunday, 5/18 on the Morning Breese Cruise, participants were treated to the sighting of the first blue whale of the season.  The whale was missing a large part of the right side of its fluke and will be easy to identify on future trips.  Several other sightings of blues and fin whales have been reported the last couple of days. 
 
Fin Whale Sighting
5/2/2008

On Sunday, April 20th, 2008 during our Marine Wildlife Exploration Cruise, we spoted four Fin Whales.  We were about four miles off Strands beach.  We assume the whales were between feeding and just relaxing on the surface.  When we turned our engines off the four whales came over to check us out.  In fact, the passengers all felt the boat moving slightly as if the whales were nudging the boat!  The largest whale was as long as the Sea Explorer, 65 feet.

Link to footage on You Tube