‘Tis the Season for Gray Whales

By Audrey Evans, whale watching coordinator

Earlier this December, Birch Aquarium’s team of naturalists and volunteers attended their pre-season meetings, training sessions, and lectures. As they brushed up on current whale research and shared experiences from past seasons, both experienced and new whale watchers began preparations for an exciting new season. Birch Aquarium is proud to have a dedicated team of eight naturalists and more than 80 volunteers aboard Flagship’s Marietta for the fifteenth season of whale watching.

whale watching volunteers

During the first week of the season, which began on December 14, guests were treated to 34 gray whale sightings, dozens of energetic common and Pacific white-sided dolphins, and a special visit from an unlikely guest: a brown booby perched on the Marietta’s railing for over 30 minutes. This is quite impressive for a season only 1/18 of the way through!

Juvenile Brown Footed Booby

Interested in seeing the action for yourself? Carve out some family time to spend with the whales this holiday season. Tickets can be purchased through Flagship Cruises & Events at 619-234-4111 or http://www.flagshipsd.com/whale-watching.

Gray whale tail off San Diego.

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  • Faaizah
    December 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Does whale watching disturb the natural habitat of the whales and dolphins? Do they sense and know the ships are there and is there legislation and laws on how close a ship can get to the whales?

    • Hallie at Birch Aquarium
      December 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Great question! Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people cannot disturb or harass the gray whales. It is illegal to cut them off in their path or approach at a close distance. Therefore, our boats will usually turn off the engine or idle while in the area of a whale. This law is enforced by several government agencies and therefore it’s a good idea to go with a reputable company such as Flagship Cruises & Events when whale watching, because the captains know the rules and how to follow them for the safety of the animals. More info here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/mmpa/

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego