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San Diego Whale Watching

Are you ready for a heart racing adventure?  Join one of the many tours in San Diego for a close up look at one of the largest mammals in the world.  The migration of gray whales along the west of North America is a remarkable annual event. Between October and May, gray whales journey 10,000 miles or more to the warm, tranquil lagoons of Mexico and back again to their feeding grounds in frigid artic waters-the longest migration known for a mammal. In its lifetime, an average gray whale swims the distance to the moon and back.

Every October, the females depart their feeding grounds and head south to subtropical lagoons along the Pacific coast of Baja California or mainland Mexico where they will give birth. In the following weeks, the mothers-to-be are followed by breeding adults, immature whales, and yearlings. Mating takes place primarily during the southward migration, in late November and early December.

The journey north occurs in February. Single whales are the first to leave. Mother-calf pairs depart a month or more later, giving babies time to grow strong on their mother’s rich milk-which is 35 to 50% fat! Calves will consume an estimated 50 gallons of milk per day.

San Diego’s marine life is both rich and diverse. Thousands of species of marine plants, crustaceans, mollusks, other invertebrates, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals use an astonishing diversity of habitats. Some species, such as squid, may swarm by the millions in relatively small areas near the coast. Other species, such as blue whales, come in small numbers from distant waters to feed on blooms of krill. Marine mammals, seabirds, and fish migrate from one part of the California coast to another or across the boundaries between Mexico and California.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises, belong to the order of aquatic mammals called cetaceans. Like other mammals whales are warm blooded, breathe air, bear their young live, and nourish their babies with milk. Gray whales are toothless; their upper jaw is lined with rows of a stiff, bristly material called baleen. They are typically bottom feeders, rolling on their side and placing their cheeks a few inches above the ocean floor. Retracting its large, muscular tongue, the whale sucks in a mouthful of mud and water, then forces the slurry out through the rows of baleen. Small, mud dwelling crustaceans and other bits of food are captured on the coarse fringe.

The predictable parade of gray whales along the California coast affords excellent whale watching opportunities. Prime time for whale watching off San Diego is December through January for the southern migration, and February through March for the northward migration. Gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three: at the peak of migration, a dozen or more individuals may be seen together. They cruise slowly through near shore waters at a speed of two to six miles per hour.

Gray whales are warm-mammals that spend much of their life in frigid arctic waters. How do they manage to stay warm? Blubber……They have many adaptations for conserving body heat, including a five-inch thick layer of fat, called blubber, beneath their skin! Adult gray whales may reach 50 feet in length. Newborns are about 15 feet long.

Deep diving is signaled when a whale raises its huge tail into the air. This behavior is called sounding. The return of the whale to the surface will be announced by a blow-a tall plume of vapor resulting from forceful exhalation.

 

Whale Watching with Flagship Cruises & Events and Birch Aquarium

We offer our educational whale watching excursions with our partner of 14 years, Birch Aquarium. Celebrate over 14 years of whale watching with Birch Aquarium naturalists and Flagship Cruises & Events as we venture out for twice-daily cruises to locate gray whales on their roundtrip migration.Get a close-up look and learn about gray whale baleen, barnacles, and prey items from naturalists during the cruise.

Our new addition this year, is our High Speed Jet Boat, the Patriot. The Patriot will take you out to see the majestic whales and other marine life in half the time! Search for other marine life such as seals, sea lions, migrating birds, and more.

Click HERE to book now!

 

Whale Watching with Hornblower Cruises & Events

If you love whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea birds, hop on board for a breathtaking
experience on the open ocean. We’ll speed out to sea on one of our large, comfortable yachts and pass barking sea lions and pods of leaping dolphins as we search for the legendary whales – known for migrating the longest distance of any mammal on Earth. As we make our 3.5 hour tour, we’ll be treated to a live narration by our experienced captain and our on-board naturalist (from San Diego Natural History Museum). You’ll stay cozy and comfortable with both indoor and outdoor seating and a snack bar featuring hot food, a full bar, and souvenirs. Professional live narration on marine life from our expert captains and volunteer naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT).

Click HERE to book now!



Whale Watching with Xplore Offshore

For whale watching, sightseeing or special celebrations, this trip packs the most mph (memories-per-hour). Our boat travels five times faster than the big whale-watching boats. We go 1-3 miles offshore for the best chance of seeing blue, gray, humpback and killer whales, sunfish, porpoises and other sea life. www.XploreOffshore.com

Click HERE to book now!

Whale Watching with Adventure RIB Rides

At Adventure R.I.B. Rides, our whale and dolphin watching excursions get you up close to the action while enjoying the breathtaking scenery as you race along the water in our safe and stable authentic Navy S.E.A.L Team Rigid Inflatable Boats (R.I.B.s). Leaving from the beautiful Sheraton Marina Hotel allows you a chance to view the downtown skyline as well as many other sites San Diego Bay has to offer. As we make our way past the Navy Submarine Base and the Point Loma Lighthouse and then onto our ocean excursion, we will get up close to the action as we see breaching whales and dolphins leap into the air.

Click HERE to book now!

Whale Watching with Next Level Sailing

Yacht America starts the San Diego Grey Whale Watching season sailing on December 20, 2013 till April 14, 2014.In the 2012/2013 season the beautiful ‘America’ carried over 3609 guests to the whale grounds in her 86 sailings. This was amazing support from the public making the ‘America’ the most popular whale watching excursion in San Diego. This wonderful support is testament to the ‘value’ included in every trip.

The famous sailing yacht AMERICA, docked at the San Diego Maritime Museum, offers Whale Watching tours with an educational and historical perspective. Next Level Sailing whale watching tours include free admission to the museum. (800) 644-3454

Click HERE to book now!

Whale Watching with H & M Landing

3 hour trips to view the southbound migration of the California Gray Whales and other marine wild life including dolphins, birds and sea lions.

Click HERE to book now!

Also Check out…

Spot a gray whale swimming off our coastline by kayak and along the way observe stunning reefs and marine life native to our area while exploring sea cliffs. La Jolla Kayak. (858) 459-1114. www.lajollakayak.com.    Hike Bike Kayak. (866) 425-2925. www.hikebikekayak.com    San Diego Bike and Kayak. (858) 454-1010 www.bikeandkayaktours.com

Be sure to check out Big Bay Whale Days on January 25th, 2014. This free Whale Festival is a family community event offering a wide variety of interactive and hands on displays including a walk-through gray whale, live sea creatures, face painting, live music, and more! www.whaledays.com.

This article is reprinted in part courtesy of Birch Aquarium at Scripps, prepared by Debbie Zmarzly, Ph.D

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