A historic number of gray whales are migrating past Southern California right now and they’re giving whale watchers the thrill of a lifetime.
Whale watchers aboard with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, California, are seeing a record number of gray whales. “I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve been whale watching this many gray whales in December. And the season has just begun,” says Captain Dave.
Capt. Dave recently filmed what may be world’s first drone footage and photos of a newborn gray whale calf off of Dana Point, California. Passengers and crew were in awe of the tiny whale that was probably no more than a few days old.
Gray whales usually have their calves in the lagoons of Baja, California, 550 miles further down the coast. But this mom could not wait! Calves are rarely seen heading down the coast because most are born in the birthing lagoons in Baja where it’s warm and safe. The majority of gray whale calves are seen on the northbound part of the migration, heading back up to the feeding grounds near Alaska. “The video I took from drone is first ever of a calf this young in our area. You can see the fetal folds on the calf. It could be just a few hours or as many as a few days old. This animal is about 1/3 the size of calves I filmed from air last season heading up coast. They grow to 2/3 their adult size first year,” explained Captain Dave. “I have never seen aerial footage of a calf this young! I am absolutely thrilled by these images and video!”
This month Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari has had almost six times as many gray whale encounters as was had two years ago. As many as sixteen gray whales have been seen during just one trip!
Every year gray whales make a 10,000 to 12,000 mile round trip migration along the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. They travel from their feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the protected lagoons of Baja, California, to mate and have their calves. Gray whales have one of the longest and most arduous migrations of any mammal. Along the way they face numerous threats including killer whales and entanglement in fishing gear. Nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales die every day, worldwide, in fishing gear entanglement. Captain Dave organized Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including the gray whale Lily, whose disentanglement made national headlines.
In the News
Orange County Register
NBC Nightly News