Whale Watching: Season in Summary

By Audrey Evans, whale watching coordinator

Once again, it’s time to bid farewell to the gray whales; Birch Aquarium at Scripps’ 2011-12 whale watching season has drawn to a close. We are pleased with the season’s success; more than 500 baleen whales were spotted in the past three-and-a-half months.

Our passengers – along with aquarium naturalists, volunteers, and the Flagship Cruises crew – were treated to a number of marine marvels: whale breaches, spy hopping, cow/calf pairs, and even mating gray whales, to name a few. Dolphin acrobatics entertained nearly every cruise, and our crew spotted several “mega-pod” sightings throughout the season.
Silhouette of a tug boat at sunset. Photo taken during a whale-watching cruise by sgoodwin4813 via Flickr.

Sightings By the Numbers

Migrating gray whales: 473

Fin whales: 54

Humpback whales: 13

Minke whales: 3

Common dolphins (approx.): 10,000+

Pacific white-sided dolphins (approx.): 710

Bottlenose dolphins (approx.): 310

Risso’s dolphins (approx.): 265

Most baleen whales seen in one day: 16

Total cruises: 194

Aquarium naturalists: 7

Volunteers: 52

Percentage of fun had on the boats: 100%!

We’ve loved every minute of these amazing animal encounters and truly enjoyed sharing the experience with our guests. We met locals who’d never seen a gray whale up close as well as tourists from all over the world who came to San Diego to witness this awesome migration. Each guest brought his/her unique perspective, yet the experience seemed to thrill each of them the same.

Whether you’re a whale-watching regular or a newbie, we invite you to join us on the sea next season. The fun will begin again on Dec. 26, 2012!

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego