During the 1950s, local marine phenomena around Los Angeles County, such as grunion fish spawning on the beach and migrating gray whales, were incorporated into unique and highly popular education and research programs that continue to evolve around the South Bay & LA today. The programs were recognized by National Geographic magazine circa 1969 and today, one of those programs, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, has been endemic in educating land-lovers about the beauty of the sea around us and was instrumental in the founding of the American Cetacean Society, the oldest whale conservation organization in the United States.
Whale sighting near Redondo Beach aboard the Voyager (Photo by South Bay Events)
Flash forward toward the south end of Santa Monica Bay as well as the waters off Palos Verdes Peninusla & Catalina Channel the last couple years and both Cabrillo Marine Aquarium & American Cetacean Society have been busy documenting and observing what you might call a whale bubble. In 2014 the ACS had a record-breaking year spotting gray whales atop their look-out post at Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, but in 2015 Humpback Whales earned an early spotlight midway through whale watching season, which usually ends sometime in mid-April. During whale watching season trained volunteers called citizen scientists gather at PVIC and collect an official whale census. Last winter there were even Orca (Killer whales) sightings.
Make your own tally of blow-holes and breaches this season from a safe and curated distance aboard the many operations that make a living out of educating whale watching fans & tourists. Go to sea any day of the week through mid-April in search of migrating Pacific gray whales and a host of other marine life including dolphins, seals and sea lions. Below are some ports of entry for whale watching adventures around the South Bay.
Indian Excursions in Redondo Beach – Double- Decker seating available and cruises usually last about two to three hours. Weekend tours at 10 a.m. & 1:30 pm cost $35 for adults, $25 for children 12 and under, and $30 for seniors 65+. All boats are staffed with a trained naturalist from Cabrillo Whalewatch, a joint effort of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and American Cetacean Society/Los Angeles Chapter. 181 N. Harbor Drive in Redondo Beach (310) 944-1219 http://www.rbwhales.com/
Marina Del Rey Sportfishing – On the weekends whale watching tours leave at 10:00 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. and costs are $35 for adults. . Each cruise lasts approximately 3 hours and departs from Dock 52 13552 Fiji Way in Marina Del Rey. All boats are staffed with a trained naturalist from Cabrillo Whalewatch, a joint effort of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and American Cetacean Society/Los Angeles Chapter. www.mdrsf.com
For a little Southern California whale history, stop by the Point Vicente Interpretive Center and see what the current whale count is up to, you may event get to talk to a volunteer from the American Cetacean Society (Los Angeles Chapter). Whale count total as of March 18, 2016 is as follows: 2,900 Gray Whales. Have a whale of a time! Point Vicente Interpretive Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve & Day and Thanksgiving, 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes (310) 377-5370. For current whale counts from PV, check out their counter!