Weekly Report ~ July 17, 2023 – July 23, 2023
Passengers from around the globe are excited to witness the grandeur of the Majestic Blue Whale – the largest animal to have ever existed on earth! Sadly, Blue Whales are still endangered, with only 1,900-2,200 estimated to be present in the local population in Southern California Bight during summers. These Blue Whales migrate north from their calving and breeding grounds off Central America and stay for days, feeding in nutrient-rich waters filled with krill, their primary and exclusive diet. They are known to consume up to 6 tons of krill daily.
People adore Blue Whales for their colossal size and the stunning blue hue that appears under the water’s surface, revealing their true enormity. Although their actual color is gray, the mottled blue-gray shade appears light blue underwater, leading to their name. Watching a Blue Whale “mom” with her “calf” while they travel north is a sight to behold. Blue Whale calves are born at 23-25 feet in length and weigh around 6 thousand pounds, gaining over 200 pounds and growing up to nine inches every day.
The opportunity to watch these massive creatures just a few miles from the Dana Point Harbor for eleven days has drawn many people to witness their magnificence. Spotting a Blue Whale is on the “bucket list” of many. These animals have an 8–12-minute dive time and can be seen swimming in a circle during their surface intervals as they stay close to their food source. They sometimes appear curious, turning and swimming right at us, alongside our vessels, and even under our boats! This week, there have also been sightings of Fin Whale and juvenile Humpback Whale.
On World Whale and Dolphin Day, the spotlight was stolen by our smaller “toothed whales”! A big thanks to Dr. Lei Lani Stelle for sharing her research with Redlands University and her student’s citizen science work with Dana Wharf. Bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins engaged with our vessels on every trip, with numerous tiny calves in all the pods, much to the delight of our passengers. The day ended with a common dolphin stampede, which was an incredible experience.