In the early 1990′s Blue Whales began to appear in Northern California, near Monterey and the Farallon Islands. According to the sightings log at the Monterey Bay Whale Watch Company between 1998 and today they saw as many as 1118 Blue Whales in one ‘summer’ alone. I say ‘summer’ because in that year, according to the MBWW log, the Blues arrived in June and were still present (62 sightings) in December! Things have changed since that year. The last great year was in 2004 when they saw 405 whales. Since then, they have become increasingly scarce with just 9 sightings in 2008. Please note: There are still extraordinary sightings of Humpbacks, numerous species of dolphins, sea otters, and even Sperm whales in Monterey, so if you’re heading that way, please call our friends at MBWW. They are really great folks who offer one of the best whale watching experiences we’ve ever had and inspired me to begin keeping our own sighting log back in 2002.
Conversely, the sighting of a Blue Whale off the coast of Orange County was a rare event through 2003. In 1999, 2000 and 2001 Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari only observed about one to three Blue Whale each summer on our three to seven mile trips from Dana Point. Each time it was such an unusual event that it made the five o’clock news. All that began to change in 2003 when we sighted 74 Blues in one summer.
Since then, as you can see from the above table, things have improved and that in 2006 we saw a record 440 Blue Whales. ***Numbers appear down in 2008 because we had our new boat, the Manute’a, which accommodates 49 people so we did about half as many trips.
|Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari|
|Year||First Sighting of the Year||Last Sighting For Year||Most Sightings in One Day||Total Sightings For Year|
|2001||July 15||July 17||3||3|
|2002||June 22||September 7||3||10|
|2003||May 10||October 10||9||74|
|2004||June 16||September 18||17||110|
|2005||June 8||August 27||10||51|
|2006||June 12||September 25||32||440|
|2007||May 20||November 13||20||283|
|2008||May 18||December 3||9||167***|
|2009||May 15||???||19||354 (as of 10/21/09)|
It’s been an exciting and historical time for Blue Whale sightings here and after reviewing the sightings for Monterey, we can only assume that we need to enjoy every moment we have because each year is different.
In our opinion, Blue Whales are absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. Unlike the bumpy, barnacled Gray Whale, these magnificent animals have smooth skin, marked only by the remorrah fish that hitch a ride to feed off the krill that spills from their mouths. The coloration is blue to light blue in a beautiful mottling that can be seen when up close. When a Blue whale surfaces and exhales, the sound is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. As their breath is released at approximately 200 miles an hour and forced through blow holes that have a striking resemblance to our own noses, the water is vaporized, shooting into the air, sometimes as high as 30 feet. The sound seems to thunder, then echo. As their body glides through the water, it seems as if it never end. Then, as a bonus the tail, measuring between 12 and 15 feet wide will sometimes lift into the air, offering a magnificent display. The “oohs” and “aahs” abound. Capt. Dave says, “Bigger than the dinosaurs, bigger than Elvis, the only thing bigger than a Blue Whale is God and you hear Him mentioned a lot when a Blue Whale is around…people are always saying, “Oh, my GOD!”