In late November excited whale watchers aboard the catamaran Manute’a, operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, were treated to the first southbound gray whale of the 2020-2021 season off the coast of Dana Point, California.
Each fall gray whales depart the cold waters of the Bering and Chukchi seas where they spend the summer bottom feeding on small crustaceans called amphipods. The whales travel about 6,000 miles to the protected lagoons of Baja to mate and give birth to their calves. In the spring they will make their way back up the west coast, giving whale watchers another opportunity to catch a glimpse of the majestic animals. Gray whales average between 40 to 50 feet in length and weigh 30 to 40 tons.
Dana Point is one of the best places to view the gray whale migration. The whales often travel within a mile or two of the coast, and are believed to use Dana Point’s headlands as a landmark on their route. Many residents and visitors to the Orange County area have experienced unique gray whale encounters aboard Captain Dave’s customized catamarans, which depart from Dana Point Harbor.
During their migration gray whales face many challenges including attacks from killer whales, and one particular hazard which takes the lives of nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales every day around the world. An estimated 308,000 dolphins and whales worldwide die every year because of entanglement in fishing gear. Captain Dave Anderson organized Orange County’s first whale rescue group, and alongside other rescue team members, has disentangled many whales, including several gray whales.
With a variety of year-round whales, more dolphins per square mile than anywhere in the world, pristine coastline, calm seas, the first and longest running annual Festival of Whales, and a captivating harbor minutes from the open ocean, Dana Point, California, is the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®.