Mission Bay Grey Whale Migration
28.03.2013 65 °F
We left our courting and mating quail pair behind in AZ and headed west to California for the Grey Whale migration. I was very excited about the ominous sounding three hour tour, as anyone who grew up watching Gilligan's Island might be. But, the clouds burned away by the time we boarded the Privateer. My kid had been studying the ocean at school, so he was equally enthused about watching the whales live and in person.
The night before the tour, visions of whales breaching danced in my head. My fantasies may have resembled Life of Pi. I may have had unrealistic expectations.
We arrived in Mission Bay at San Diego Whale Watch in plenty of time to check out the seals and sea lions lounging on the pier,
while we listened to the safety regulations and other instructions; the most important of which was for anyone prone to motion sickness to TAKE A PILL! Having sailed on all types of boats from sail boats to cruise ships, we were unconcerned. We set out and I was surprised that we turned south and followed the coast. I imagined that we would need to venture way out into the open sea far from the shore to see whales. We promptly learned from our tour guide that these whales, on a 10,000-12,000 miles journey, are tired and vulnerable. They stick fairly close to shore for the warm water and the protection against predators.
Roughly 45 minutes into the tour, my Husband asked if I brought any candy or sugar or water. I apologized and felt terrible when I looked at his rather green face. Poor guy. His tummy succumbed to the motion of the waves. He left me and the Kid to go to the back of the boat to lay chum. The boy, still in the realm of fantasy, asked if I heard the humming of a whale song. I said no. He mimicked the sound of the engines and said, "That means we're close!" I couldn't bring myself to burst his bubble so I let him believe the engines were whales humming. Right on cue, the guide announced that there was a trio of whales off the bow at about 2:00. The Kid was validated. "I told you!" he said.
Like clockwork, everyone went to the right hand side of the boat to see the spouts. I panicked briefly, fearing the boat would capsize, but then I figured that if it were a real danger, they would have warned us against such action. The accomodating Captain Rick manuevered the boat so we could watch the whales from all sides. After the first spouts, people generally stuck to their places. I'll admit, seeing the whales spout was thrilling. The young tour guide either really loves his job or is well trained in maximizing his enthusiasm for the tourists as he giddily exclaimed "There's a spout! Oh! Another one! Watch for them to breach...YES! And a fluke! If you guys are having as much fun as I am, then this tour is a success!" he said.
Sadly, my little point-and-click camera was not powerful enough, nor was I fast enough on the trigger to get any good or up close shots of the whales. This was the best I could do. (Wish list alert...Mother's Day is coming up!)
A little while later a mama and a calf joined the trio. We watched them for a good half hour, learning about their taxing journey from their feeding grounds near Alaska to their mating grounds near Mexico and back again. While some of us may have hoped for a high adventure on the high seas, we were informed that this ain't Moby Dick. There are moral obligations to observe when we share the waters with these creatures. This population, we learned, is on the rise. They were recently removed from the endangered species list. The last thing we wanted to do was to distress them and cause them harm, either directly or indirectly.
We stayed near the whales as long as our time allowed then headed back to the bay. We were treated to a group (herd? pod? school?) of about 100 dolphins feeding and playing.
Even if the whales didn't quite measure up to our expectations, the dolphin show made the trip worth it. For me. And my Kid. My Husband, I'm sure, just wanted to get back on solid ground.
The crew members of The Privateer were all courteous, friendly, informative, and accomodating. This trip was well worth it, but next time we'll definitely take some dramamine.