Whale watching - Rancho Palos Verdes - January 2010

Since we didn't see any whales while we were on our trip up north I decided to take an old friend to try to spot some at the Point Vicente Interpretative Center in Rancho Palos Verdes.

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Their website said:

"From December to May, American Cetacean Society volunteers gather daily at the Center to conduct a census of whales passing through the Catalina Channel. The friendly American Cetacean Society volunteers are happy to talk about whales, their numbers, invite visitors to observe the Pacific Ocean, share stories and answer questions."

So I figured we'd have more chances to spot them since there would be experts there. That didn't work out too well for us. I mean, it was exciting to be there while the volunteers looked through their scopes and yelled out coordinates of grey whale sitings, but they made us feel a bit in the way and it was getting stressful as I swung wildly from side to side trying to figure out just what "27! 325! Blow! Blow!" meant. So we decided to take a stroll along the coast there and find a bench to relax on to let it happen more naturally. And it happened!!

First, we saw a huge school (??) of dolphins, maybe 20 or so, jumping around diving in and out of the water. Then, I decided to walk out to this area by a lagoon and keep my binoculars in one spot for a few minutes and somehow, I saw a grey whale!! First a heart-shaped plume of condensation (caused by the whale's breath) followed by a large black hump (the head!) for 10 seconds or so and then the angular shape of the tail as it dove down. I was so excited and tried to see it again on the next surfacing, but didn't. Once you spot one you can sometimes follow it for a while since the breathing is rhythmic. 2 or 3 shallow dives maybe 1-2 minutes apart and then a deeper dive, taking 3-5 minutes.

Anyway, needless to say, I was very excited! Here are some photos from the coast. Of course, none of the whale because it was way too fast and far away to capture in a photo. Of course, the sunset was breathtaking that day.

I'd suggest visiting this little center. They have some nice exhibits about the marine life inside and a cute little gift shop. Also, I got a pamphlet about a cheap whale watching tour from Redondo Beach that I'll be taking soon!. Stay tuned.