Date: Sunday February 26th, 2023
Harbor: Channel Islands, Oxnard
- 2 Gray Whales – Northbound
- Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins
Captain Alex Legaspi of the SUNFISH
What started as a typical whale watch, turned in to the show of a lifetime as this pair of northbound whales took a break from their annual 13,000+ mile migration to and from to get up close and personal with us. For over an hour, the whales approached mere inches from the hull of the SUNFISH as they rolled, spyhopped (rising vertically out of the water to view above the surface) and even blew bubbles at us with wide open mouths showing off their baleen plates. Words cannot express just how special it was to spend time eye to eye with these whales as they viewed at everyone onboard and just how exceptionally rare it was for these animals to display behavior like this off the coast of California. Displays like this from Gray Whales is typically restricted to the shallow lagoons of their breeding grounds in Baja Mexico, but we were incredibly lucky to have such an encounter just a few miles off the coast of Oxnard in the open Santa Barbara Channel with no other vessels around. Gray Whales are very intelligent and curious creatures and its believed that they are drawn to some vessels because of the low frequency vibrations the boats engines produce as well as showing a keen interest in the humans onboard looking back at them. (Again, usually restricted entirely to warm lagoons in Baja Mexico). This is the first time we’ve witnessed actions like this from Gray Whales in our years of operating whale watching trips and documenting Gray Whale encounters. These animals approached us completely on their own, and our vessel was completely stationary out of gear for the entire duration of this encounter.
-Capt. A. Legaspi