Monday, October 6, 2008

My Town Monday: San Diego whale watching



Every year, about 26,000 gray whales migrate 10,000 miles from the arctic seas (Bering and Chukchi Seas) to the lagoons of Baja California. And guess which coastline these incredibly large mammals swim along? You got it! They pass by San Diego from the end of December until March. You can see them as they travel southbound from the feeding grounds or on their way back north after mating or calving. Mothers and calves hang close to the shore.

Gray whales usually travel in pods of two or three. They're pretty slow swimmers (about 6 miles per hour). They dive about 100 feet down for three to five minutes, then surface to blow. Gray whales grow to about 46 feet long (females are slightly longer. Ha!), 36 tons and live to the ripe old age of 55 years.

I don't know why, but I always like to know the length of gestation in various animals. So.....it's 12-13 months for the gray whale. Yikes. At birth, the calf weighs about 1200 pounds and is around 15 feet. More yikes. And the mother produces mile that's 53% fat. To put it all in perspective, human milk is 2% fat.

Courtship and mating usually takes place in the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. It's very complicated and often involves more than three whales of mixed sexes! That's all I can say. This is not that type of blog!

Gray whales can be spotted from land, especially from Torrey Pines State Beach and Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. However, I generally encourage my visitors to shell out for a whale watching excursion. Not because I'm ready for a break from my hostess duties (although sometimes... Ha! Now everyone who has visited us (and there have been a gazillion of you!) is head-scratching and wondering if she/he was a pesky guest!! Hint: just bring a BIG gift)

Back to whale watching...It's super exciting to see these animals from a boat. Excursions cost $25-30 (adult) and last 2-3 hours. Here are some (maybe even all) the companies who will take you out (in alpha order, so I don't hurt anyone's feelings or get sued or whatever):

H&M Landing

Scripps Aquarium

Hornblower

And if you're adventurous to the max, you can kayak out to the whales ($55-$65) with Hike Bike Kayak San Diego

Do I personally go whale watching?

Capital N. Capital O.

I pratically get seasick in the bathtub. I survived one really horrendous two-hour bout of seasickness on a whale watching excurision. Never. Ever. Again. Ever. That said, I've never had a visitor get sick.



Please visit Travis Erwin, the guy who spearheads My Town Mondays. He'll have a list of links to other Mondayers.

You did notice and are duly appreciative that I avoided all tacky jokes dealing with such expressions as "a whale of a time."



Sources: http://sandiego.about.com/cs/familyfun/a/whale_watch.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Whale
http://www.acsonline.org/factpack/graywhl.htm

17 comments:

keri mikulski :) said...

Whales are so fascinating. This post reminds me that I want to go whale watching and right now is the perfect time.. Except, I also get seasick. Yuck. Thanks for sharing. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I also get seasick. Spent my one day doing it coloring with two little boys in the cabin.

Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

two things...a: how very cool and how very amazing to see these whales....and b: there is no way in the world you could have paid me any amount of money to be pregnant that long! i thought i was going to die being a week late.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Terrific post, Barrie. Your pictures really jump.

While everyone else goes whale watching, I'll hang out with you and Patti.

Terrie

debra said...

I've been fascinated by whales and their haunting calls for a long time. Thanks for this post!

Barbara Martin said...

Whales are so interesting, although I wonder about taking a boat excursion to be close to them. I would worry about them coming up underneath the boat and launching it.

Sometimes I get seasick, but only when the water gets rough.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'd love to see them up close, but I think I'd prefer a bigger boat than a kayak.

Travis Erwin said...

I myself would love to have a whale of a time by seeing these creatures in the wild.

Junosmom said...

Okay, how do we compete with THAT? You have your own whales. I have a spring. Woop de doo! I'd pick the whales.

Patti said...

the thought of seeing a whale is mind-boggling to this landlocked texas gal. wow...

willow said...

Whales are amazing aren't they? Nice post! And thanks for stopping by my place today, too. :)

Larramie said...

Barrie, you show off Mother Nature at her best!

laughingwolf said...

incredible creatures on this planet, many we've yet to see....

laughingwolf said...

incredible creatures on this planet, many we've yet to see....

doggybloggy said...

that has got to be the coolest thing ever! how majestic and powerful...this is awesome

Bee said...

Another reason to move to California . . . or, at the very least, to visit!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

We did a whale-watching tour on our last trip to San Diego. We saw a couple of whale body curves and bunches and bunches of dolphins and sea lions. It was a very nice excursion.