Romantic Whales Put On a Show for Dolphins and Paddleboarders in Front of Dana Point Harbor
About two miles off of Dana Point, California, a location described as “the only romantic spot on the coast” by author Richard Henry Dana Jr., a pair of amorous gray whales engaged in a rare and incredible display of courtship and mating behavior that is usually seen only in the lagoons of Baja. While the romantic whales twirled, rolled, and breached, a pod of curious bottlenose dolphins, awestruck whale watching passengers aboard Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, a kayak, and even a stand-up paddleboarder watched the unusual scene unfold.
“Apparently everyone was curious, especially the dolphin. We often see pacific white-sided dolphin interacting with these whales but to have bottlenose dolphin was extraordinary,” says Captain Dave.
Every year gray whales migrate about 12,000 miles from their feeding grounds in the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the warm lagoons of Baja, California, to mate and have their calves. They make one of the longest and most arduous migrations of any mammal. Gray whales don’t eat during the migration because there is no food for them south of Oregon. And they face many threats along the way including killer whales and entanglement in gillnet. It is rare to see these whales engage in courtship and mating outside of the safe lagoons where they are protected. We don’t know why these two whales chose to make a stop along the way. Perhaps they, like Richard Henry Dana Jr., found Dana Point romantic and beautiful too.
Gray whale sightings are breaking records this season. We have never seen this many gray whales so early in the season before. More gray whales were seen this December and January than in any prior season. It is not clear why the gray whale migration began earlier than normal and why there are seemingly so many more whales than in past seasons. After the season draws to a close in April or May scientists hope to have more answers.