Goodbye, Cabrillo Whale Watch

I've loved my time as a Cabrillo Whale Watch Naturalist.  I cried a bit Tuesday night when I left the meeting (early, because I knew I was going to cry) and again yesterday afternoon when I got off the Tradition, my last boat as a naturalist.

Unfortunately, moving to Petaluma this spring is going to be expensive, and I'm not sure I'm going to get any kind of support to complete the move, that means drastic cuts.  My food budget is now $25/ week, and I'm cutting my gas use in half.  I've had to cut my hours volunteering at the aquarium to once a week, and I can no longer drive up the coast to do whale watches (or pay for parking if I'm at Redondo Beach). Hopefully I'll have enough saved up when it's time to move to pay for the moving expenses, security deposit, and the travel up before the move to sign paperwork with housing and the apartment complex.  It's going to be an ugly few months.

The good thing about my last whale watch was that I did get to see a juvenile Pacific Gray Whale.  It was snorkeling (swimming just under the surface and just rising enough to get it's blow hole out of the water) so it was in full stealth mode most of the time, but it did fluke once, to the delight of the passengers.  Unfortunately, I'd put my camera away just before the fluke, and was talking to a group of kids about the whale's behavior when it started it's dive, then I was narrating the dive and forgot about my camera until the flukes had disappeared beneath the water.

So, the only photo I got of this whale was a pretty blurry shot of a low blow (since being near the surface and snorkeling, the blows aren't as powerful)

So, as far as photography goes, the trip was a bust, but as far as talking to people goes, it was pretty great.  Kids ride the Tradition free, and even though it's a shorter trip than some of the whale watches, it's in a great location to see whales and other marine mammals, so it's fun for me to work that boat, because the kids get so excited to see all the animals.

And this was a pretty great trip all in all, because we also saw Pacific White Sided Dolphin, Common Dolphin, and a Coastal Bottlenose, as well as the usual sea lions and several species of birds.

I did get an OK photo of some of the commons swimming in our wake:

and a pretty typical bunch of photos of sea lions on the navigation buoys.

I kinda like this one because it looks like one of the big males is telling the females and pups "no more room on this buoy for you!"

I do have one more whale watch trip planned, not as a naturalist, but as a guest on Harbor Breeze, which I took a Groupon out for a couple months ago, with the idea of seeing the orca around New Year's Day, but the orca haven't come down yet.

This year the Gray migration is also slow and late. We've mostly been seeing a few scattered juveniles coming down. With 21,000 whales on the migration route, we should see more than that!   It's possible that the majority of the whales are taking the outer migration route past the channel islands, or perhaps they've stayed up in the feeding grounds later this year because of the warmer weather. 

Last year the migration was early and very dense, so we were all surprised at this year's numbers so far.  It also looks like a lot of babies are being born on the way down,  4 newborns were sighted at the Gray Whale Census count at Point Vicente. 

You can follow the migration count at the American Cetacean Society of LA County's Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project web page.


  1. Thanks for all your posts while you were a Naturalist for the Whale Watches. i enjoyed reading and viewing them. I hope that you'll find new challenges, pleasures, and colleagues in place of those you have to let go of now.


Post a Comment