By Audrey Evans, whale watching coordinator
The 2014-15 whale watching season provided thousands of guests with spectacular whale and dolphin sightings. Mostly calm seas and many clear days made for great whale watching conditions. Winters off the San Diego coast are a great time to search for migrating gray whales. This year’s gray whale count aboard Flagship’s Marietta surpassed recent seasons topping off at 825! Comparatively, we spotted just shy of 600 gray whales last season. Although gray whales are the most frequently sighted baleen whale, guests and naturalists were also treated to other species such as Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Pilot Whales, as well as Common, Pacific White-Sided, Risso’s and Bottlenose Dolphins. Here is a breakdown of the 2014-15 season sightings:
Gray Whales: 825 (the most we’ve ever seen in one season!)
Fin Whales: 31
Humpback Whales: 24
Common Dolphins: 21268
Pacific White-Sided Dolphins: 1350
Bottlenose Dolphins: 559
Risso’s Dolphins: 233
Pilot Whales: 30 (never before seen on the Marietta)
Some notable highlights included whale breaches on 40 separate cruises, 13 gray whale cow/calf pairs, 1 sea turtle, 1 swordfish, and mola mola fish spotted on four separate occasions. This is in addition to countless birds such as brown pelicans and cormorants as well as California sea lions spotted on nearly every cruise.
Want in on the action next season? Join Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises and Events in December 2015 as we kick off the next amazing whale watching season!