Veteran naturalists and a handful of rookies braved biting wind and choppy seas last week to officially kick off whalewatching season.
A group of nearly 100 Cabrillo Marine Aquarium volunteers, many of them wearing red jackets plastered with patches proving their worth as whalewatchers, boarded Voyager in the Redondo Beach Marina last Wednesday. They had waited an hour on the dock for word from the skipper as to whether conditions would allow for seafaring.
It turns out they wouldn’t.
After a short but eventful foray into the ocean open, Voyager turned back. But the naturalists, their appetites whet and their eyes bright, were bubbling over with enthusiasm for the coming season.
It does look promising. From Dec. 1 to Dec. 30, whalewatchers had spotted 151 Pacific gray whales headed south, according to a census taken by Point Vicente Interpretive Center. (To see up-to-date figures, visit www.acs-la.org/daily.htm.) For purposes of comparison, last December’s count was 194.
Pacific gray whales stop by Redondo Beach on their way to Baja, 7,000 miles away from their Alaskan point of origin. The volunteers who weathered the inhospitable weather last week are putting in training hours and taking theory tests to prepare for the job of narrating aboard whale-watching excursions throughout the season, from now until mid-April.
Voyager departs from the Redondo Beach Marina at 10am and 1.30pm daily. Tickets are $25 per person and $15 for children 12 and under. For more information, visit www.voyagerexcursions.com.