Whale Watching Season Still Open for 2014!

It’s not too late to go whale watching this season!

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Even though it’s now spring (as of 9:57 a.m. PDT to be exact), many varieties of whales and dolphins are still swimming through the Southern California area, including grey, killer, and humpback whales and bottle-nosed, common, and white-sided dolphins.

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Grey whale fluke.

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White-sided dolphins darted back and forth around our boat.

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A tell-tale sign we’re whale-watching off-shore from Long Beach and San Pedro.

We enjoyed our first whale watching adventure together as a family back in January, all thanks to a wonderful discount provided through the Aquarium of the Pacific. Members of the aquarium can enjoy discounted tickets for $25 per adult and $15 per child ages 3-to-11 (seniors 62+ are $20 each), and all can purchase a combo ticket for aquarium admission and whale watching for under $50 each (children and seniors even less)! The aquarium runs their boats at Noon and 3 p.m. daily from November through April each season.

Heading out from Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach for our whale watching adventure!

Heading out from Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach for our whale watching adventure!

View of the Long Beach coastline from off-shore. The tall blue building center-photo is the Galaxy Towers at the end of our street!

View of the Long Beach coastline from off-shore. The tall blue building center-photo is the Galaxy Towers at the end of our street!

Seals and sea lions are a common sighting on the buoys around the harbors of Long Beach.

Seals and sea lions are a common sighting on the buoys around the harbors of Long Beach.

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During our cruise, we ventured about three-to-five miles off-shore from downtown Long Beach outside of the breakwater. While some say that’s not far enough from land to see much, I think you can see from the photos that we actually enjoyed quite a bit of activity. Not much of it was super close up, but it was close enough to capture our constant attention for our two-to-three hours on the water.

My boys toward the end of our whale watching adventure.

My boys toward the end of our whale watching adventure.

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I love these photos of me and T. My silly boy.

I love these photos of me and T. My silly boy.

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It also was a gorgeous afternoon to be on the water at sunset, too. Even if we hadn’t seen much, it’d be hard to say that it wasn’t money well-spent. The weather we’ve been fortunate to have for the last few months running (AKA winter in other parts) has been nothing short of perfect. We count ourselves lucky every day we live here.

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Oh, and I forgot, T actually got to hold a whale, too! Now who’s gotten to say that when they’ve gone whale watching?

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A few tips should you decide to go whale watching with the Aquarium of the Pacific’s whale watch:
1. If you are not prone to sea sickness, make sure you arrive early to line up for a much-coveted spot downstairs on the bow (front) of the boat just outside the inner-cabin. This will provide the best vantage point based on the orientation of the tour guide doing the spotting overhead from the cabin. We had chosen to stay up top in the open air since it was T’s first time out and we didn’t know how much he’d actually pay attention (or run around the boat, or be sick possibly), but that choice caused us to miss quite a bit toward the end of our cruise by way of super-playful whales, including a partial breech. Oops.
2. Take your “good camera” as you never know what you will see out there. You might have 500+ (OK, 700+) photos to cull afterward, but it will be well worth it versus leaving with only a few fuzzy phone snapshots. Thanks, C, for bringing the good camera, even if it did take me two months to get to putting up this post!
3. Bring some cash for the snack stand, including bar, aboard the boat. It will keep everyone happy, especially parents. Cheers!
4. Check out some information online beforehand for up-to-date sighting details, including the aquarium’s blog for more personalized accounts of experiences and excursions. This will help to set realistic expectations based on the time of day and point during the season when you plan to go.

Happy Spring, RMT’ers!

Did you go whale watching this season with your kids, RMT’ers? What did you see? And what other tips do you have for families before they head out on their three-hour tours?

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