Category Archives: Oceanic

Blue Whale Trippin’

This is your last chance this summer to get out on a true cetacean safari in Santa Barbara with the American Cetacean Society. On Saturday, August 11th is the ACS-LA’s annual “Blues of Summer” cruise. I went two weeks ago and can I just say awesome? Three blue whales (we stayed with a pair for nearly an hour). We saw four different pods of dolphins (including one huge pod of 500 or so short-beaked common dolphins), a mola mola and my first-ever sighting of a basking shark.

Okay, the video is a little choppy, but photos just don’t begin to show the scale of these 80 foot creatures.
Continue reading Blue Whale Trippin’

Belong to a more exclusive club – Blue Whale Watchers

You wanna feel like you’re part of something big or exclusive this summer? It’s not about iPhones or waiting in line at a fictional store or a new ride or a new movie. If you’re someone who wants to wait for something how about real and rare. How about belonging to a really exclusive club of people who have seen a Blue Whale?

yes, I saw this whale two years ago … I wonder if he remembers me?

There may be only 12,000 Blue Whales on the planet (and only 3,500 of those in the Northern Hemisphere). Talk about a limited supply. But we’re lucky enough that we live a scant ninety minute drive from a summer feeding ground. We’re talking world class whale watching here that can be done in a day … get up early, go out on a boat, sleep in your own bed that night.

The American Cetacean Society Los Angeles is hosting a trip this Saturday on the Condor Express leaving from Santa Barbara. The boat leaves at 8 AM and returns at 4 PM (possibly later if there’s something cool to look at). Tickets are $90 and seats are still available. As a reference normal half-day trips on the Condor Express are $88 for half day trips … this is such a deal!
Continue reading Belong to a more exclusive club – Blue Whale Watchers

Whales of Summer at Cabrillo Aquarium

Tonights’ speaker at the American Cetacean Society’s monthly lecture isn’t some dry scientist repeating statistics and nomenclature. Captain Mat Curto takes visitors around the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary to see dozens of different species of marine life year round.

I’ve been to Santa Barbara to ride the Condor Express and have seen the Humpback and Blue Whales and have to say that if you can’t get up there (or even if you’re planning a trip already) it’s a fun way to familarize yourself with what’s there. Tonight he’ll be presenting the best of his 12 years on the seas.

7:30 PM
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M. White Drive
San Pedro

(Has anyone been watching the Planet Earth documentaries?)
Continue reading Whales of Summer at Cabrillo Aquarium

Newport Beach Couple Swept Out to Sea

I just heard a story on a KCRW news break that totally freaked me out. A couple in Newport Beach was swept out to sea while fishing from a jetty, and all the authorities found on the beach were the woman’s straw hat and the man’s shoes. As an avid body border and novice surfer, I’ve been pounded on and pinned to the sandy bottom by more than a few giant walls of water that I wasn’t prepared for. Thinking about being swept off a jetty and dragged off to my watery doom is terrifying.

Offshore Report (March 28)

dolphinicon.gifThe Ultimate Whale Watch trip sponsored by ACS-LA on Saturday saw a plethora of creatures: Gray Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Long-Beaked Common Dolphin, Short-Beaked Common Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphins and even some far off Fin Whales and Humpback Whale. Let that be a lesson to me to always go on the local all-day trips!

dolphinicon.gifThe current tally of Gray Whales from the ACS-LA Census is 554 northbound whales. The census has even started seeing northbound cow-calf pairs (they migrate north much later than the rest of the whales) and can be seen locally well into May.

dolphinicon.gifThere was a cool article in the LA Times about Humboldt Squid, which were once rare off SoCal. It may be that they’ve moved into a niche in our local ecosystem since other larger predators like sharks are proving scarce. Pete Thomas’ previous article from ’04 Are Squid Viscious also provides more info about them. Thomas will also have another article later this week about his experience on the Ultimate Whale Watch trip Saturday the 24th mentioned above.

dolphinicon.gifThe Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is holding a fundraising trip on Sunday morning to benefit the whale watch program. The Special Whale Watch is only $20 per person and you get a slide show at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium to introduce you to the sights of the sea, then a full 3 hour guided tour from the 22nd Street Landing on the Pacific Monarch. 9:30 AM to 2:00PM. Call 310-548-7562 for more info.
Continue reading Offshore Report (March 28)

Onshore Report (March 25)

Today I went whale watching up at Pt. Dume. Well, really it was a picnic with The Man, but there were whales. Hoo, boy! There were really some whales!

We arrived there around 1PM and hiked up from the Zuma Beach parking lot, past the rock climbers. We settled in at a spot just shy of the little platform on the boardwalk on the south side of the point. We ate our sandwiches and started on our pineapple chunks when we spotted a series of blows just to the south of the point.

But before I bore you with the details, I’ll give you this picture of a cute ground squirrel who ate one of our pineapple while we were had our backs turned. Stick around after the jump if you’re curious about the rest of it.

Continue reading Onshore Report (March 25)

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins in Santa Monica Bay


This afternoon I went out on the Voyager out of Redondo Sportfishing and got to check another species off my list.

Pictured above is a Pacific White Sided Dolphin. It’s not that they’re a particularly rare dolphin, I just hadn’t seen them before. They’re actually very common up the coast a bit, if you’ve been out boating in Monterey Bay you’ve probably seen them.

(A crappier picture and info about these dolphins after the jump.)
Continue reading Pacific White-Sided Dolphins in Santa Monica Bay

Offshore Report (March 21)

dolphinicon.gifThere were TONS of whales out over the weekend. I may have said that last week was the peak of the northbound migration, but the recent numbers say otherwise. 154 whales in the past week. Though there are more daylight hours for observation, late afternoon fog has made spotting less than optimal.

dolphinicon.gifFin Whales are still being spotted in the area. Humpback Whales are being spotted in the Channel Islands (a few weeks early this year).

dolphinicon.gifThis Saturday is the American Cetacean Society LA Chapter’s Annual Ultimate Whale Watch trip. It’s a full day on the Monte Carlo (departing at 8AM returning at 5PM) and going anywhere and everywhere (the west end of Catalina, for starters). Tickets are still available for this trip that’s led by multiple naturalists and excellent spotters. Tickets are $60. See more here.
Continue reading Offshore Report (March 21)

The Lobster Sting

There’s a great story in the LA Times about a successful undercover operation to catch illegal Spiny Lobster fishing.

Spiny Lobster are legal for trapping outside of Santa Monica Bay from October through mid-March. It has been illegal to catch them inside Santa Monica Bay since 1930. (If you go out whale watching with me you can see the buoys that mark the edge of Santa Monica Bay along the line where it’s legal to trap and still shallow enough to put the traps down.)

Spiny Lobsters aren’t like their Maine kin that have large claws, these “bugs” are prized for their tail meat. Go read the story about how these fishermen caught their interest and how they got the evidence to take them into custody. You can now expect the CSI: Department of Fish and Game to be announced at the Upfronts in May.

Image via Flickr user Paphio (and is of an Atlantic Spiny Lobster, not one in the Santa Monica Bay).

Offshore Report (March 14)


dolphinicon.gifThe Saturday 10AM trip on the Voyager out of Redondo was pretty awesome. There were at least three Gray Whales in the area, though some fog made it a little difficult to spot them, we did follow one for a little while. The best part were our encounters with two different groups of Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins. Offshores are often darker and much larger than the ones seen close to the beaches. There were at least three individuals I saw in the pod of 30 that were probably 14 feet long (instead of the 10 foot long Torrance coastal pod that are usually seen along Santa Monica Bay beaches).
Continue reading Offshore Report (March 14)

Offshore Report (March 7)

dolphinicon.gifA total of 472 Pacific Gray Whales have been spotted this year going south past Pt. Vicente (even one yesterday) as the northbound migration picks up with a total of 149 today (including 10 yesterday). The next few weeks we’ll be seeing lots more northbound whales, so if you wanted to get out, you have four weekends left.

dolphinicon.gifFin Whales are also still in the area with at least one spotted as close as one mile from shore at Pt. Vicente. Megapods of Common Dolphins are also back with a huge group of 5,000 seen yesterday as well. In the past seven days there have been sightings of all of the indigenous dolphins: Common, Bottlenose, Risso’s and Pacific White Sided.

dolphinicon.gifI went out on the Voyager from Redondo Beach Sportfishing last Saturday with a full boat (120 plus) and we saw Bottlenose Dolphin & three Gray Whales (heading north). The weather was stunning, warm and mild.

dolphinicon.gifI’m heading out again on the Saturday 10 AM departure of the Voyager from Redondo Sportfishing. Climb aboard for your chance to make your own offshore report. (Tickets are $17 for adults, $12 for kids.) Keep an eye on the daily census for up-to-the-minute reports of sightings.

Offshore Report (March 1)

dolphinicon.gifWe’re in turnaround time for the Gray Whale migration. It looks like the whales have started heading north, though there are far fewer being sighted daily out at Pt. Vicente (only 20 northbound in the past week and 17 southbound). We may have a brief gap where whales will be rare before the bulk of the northbound migration is seen off the PV coast.

dolphinicon.gifA Humpback Whale was sighted by the ACS Census last Thursday. Feeding must be good in the Channel to bring them into the area. Fin Whales continue to show up off of Palos Verdes.

dolphinicon.gifCool article in the LA Times about a ship repo man. This guy looks like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” of the Seas – someone get him his own TV show!

dolphinicon.gifI’m going out on Saturday morning (10 AM) from Redondo Sportfishing on the Voyager. The weather looks like it’s going to be great. All aboard!

dolphinicon.gifIf you want to stay on land but still want to take in some whales, check out Whale of a Day at the Pt. Vicente Interpretive Center from 10 AM to 4 PM. Lots of activities, special displays and a presentation by John Olguin from 11 AM to noon about the history of whale watching. The Pt. Vicente Lighthouse will also be open to the public.

See all the Offshore Reports here.

How do you keep them off the pier now that they’ve seen Santa Monica?

The last Tuesday of every month the American Cetacean Society hosts a free public lecture, this month’s is probably of more interest to the general beach and marina-going public than many:


Monica DeAngelis: “The Pinniped Problem: Non-lethal Deterrence of California Sea Lions and Pacific Harbor Seals

Tuesday, February 27, 7:30pm
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro
Sponsored by the American Cetacean Society (Los Angeles Chapter)

(Free to the public and free parking.)

So if you have a boat down at the marina and want to know what you can do to keep sea lions from sinking it, come on down.
Continue reading How do you keep them off the pier now that they’ve seen Santa Monica?