Two different pods of migrating gray whales paid Dana Point Harbor visitors and whale watchers aboard Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari a special Mother’s Day visit! The video was shot from our whale watching boat and shows gray whales, two cow and calf pairs, right next to the Dana Point Harbor jetty rocks as people ashore gather to watch the whales swim through kelp and under the boat, to the delight of passengers.
At one point the gray whale mothers and babies swam right next to our stopped catamaran sailboat, within arm’s reach of excited passengers and crew. Our boat remained in neutral whenever the whales chose to come close to us.
Gray whales are often seen within just a mile or two of the shoreline, where they often use the Dana Point headlands as a landmark and the safety of the shallow waters to protect their calves from predators. Based on NOAA estimates, up to 35 percent of gray whale calves may be consumed by killer whales.
Gray whales average 40 to 50 feet in length and have the longest migration of any mammal. Each year the whales migrate 10,000 to 12,000 miles round trip from their feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the warm lagoons of Baja, California, to mate and have their calves.
This has been Captain Dave’s best season in history for gray whale sightings. Encounters are more than double our previous best year. According to recently published reports by the Gray Whale Census Project of the American Cetacean Society Los Angeles, this is currently their second highest calf count in 31 seasons!