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Scott's L.A.™ Article:
Whale Watching in Los Angeles

Because it’s such a large urban area, it’s easy to forget that L.A. is right across the street from the Pacific Ocean.  Whale-watching is one of the most spectacular and satisfying things you can do here, and the photos below are typical of what you’ll see off the coast during whale watching seasons.  These were taken in July 2006 on a whale-watching cruise based in Long Beach near the Aquarium of the Pacific.

California Gray Whale

Blue Whale

California Gray Whale

Blue Whale

Photos courtesy of Bob & Cathy Billingsley

What to Expect

Whale-watching is unpredictable.  Whales do what they want, when they want, where they want.  On some days Pacific Ocean weather is spectacular, on others it’s foggy.  On some days you’ll be surrounded by whales and dolphins, other days you may only see a single whale spout in the distance, on other days, nothing at all.  But the whale-watching people carefully monitor locations, so there’s a good chance that you’ll come home with pictures like these, and an experience you’ll never forget.

The Whales

The most spectacular whales you can see here are the Blue Whales which are the largest animals that have ever lived on earth.  Kids are amazed that they’re even bigger than dinosaurs, they grow up to 100 feet long!  California has the largest population of Blue Whales on earth, almost 2,000 animals as of 2006.

The most commonly seen whales are the California Gray Whales which migrate down from Alaska in the Spring to have their calves in the warm waters of Mexico, then migrate back to Alaska in the Fall.  Both Blue Whales and California Gray Whales were on the verge of extinction several decades ago, but now they’re protected and making a comeback.

Other whales also make random appearances, such as Pilot Whales, and Humpback Whales which are seen a little farther north: from Santa Barbara up to Monterey.  It’s extremely common to see bottlenose dolphins, they’ll frequently swim and “play” with the larger whales.  On rare occasions, even Orcas or “Killer Whales” have been seen here, but this is not common.

The Seasons

December ~ February

California Gray Whales migrate south from Alaska to Mexico this time of year to give birth to their calves in warmer waters.

February ~ April

California Gray Whales are migrating back to Alaska with their calves.  Many people consider this to be the best time of year to see them.  Mothers and their calves travel last, they stay close to shore, and they move slowly which makes viewing and picture-taking easier.

June ~ October

Blue Whales appear off the L.A. coast all the way up to Big Sur and Monterey.  In July 2006, one Long Beach whale-watching boat company reported 121 Blue Whale sightings!

April ~ Early December

Humpback Whales appear near the Channel Islands off the Santa Barbara coast all the way up to Big Sur and Monterey.  Humpbacks are a treat to see because they look spectacular when they breach out of the water.  When they do, their long pectoral fins almost make it look like they’re playing and having fun.

Whale-Watching Boats

Click HERE for this website Whale Watching – 22nd Street Landing
Click HERE for this website Whale Watching – American Cetacean Society
Click HERE for this website Whale Watching – Harbor Breeze Cruises
Click HERE for this website Whale Watching – Whale Guide


Photos by Bob & Cathy Billingsley  ●  Used with permission.



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