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San Diego Whale Watching: December 21, 2018

As we were sailing out to the open ocean, we were honored to get a close view of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Our crew and passengers waved, yelling “Thank you!” to our brave military members aboard the aircraft carrier. One passenger even said, “if we don’t see a whale, I will still be happy. That was awesome!”

Passengers and crew of the Yacht America thank the sailors aboard the USS Roosevelt for their service in the military.

We knew however, that whales were swimming just off our coast. The peak season is now, and we knew with the cooperation of fellow whale watchers and our trained eyes, we would find something quick. As we were searching, we saw a friendly harbor seal swimming among the kelp beds.

Suddenly, we heard reports of a humpback whale swimming south four miles away. We picked up our pace and sailed over to get a good view. This adult humpback was not only swimming south, it was swimming fast, between 6-7 knots.

Humpback whale swimming south

After a few close looks, we headed north to see what else we could find. We saw 10 California brown pelicans, a helicopter, sea lions, and a fishing boat along the way. Where were the gray whales?

California Brown Pelicans

Point Loma

Lo and behold, we spotted a gray whale hugging the kelp beds off Point Loma. The depth in this area was between 60-80 ft, so this whale took relatively shallow dives. We sailed next to this whale for several breaths, and then suddenly heard two consecutive breaths. There was a second whale! The pair swam together, and we happily watched from a safe distance. We also caught some rolling behavior.

Gray whale off Point Loma

Two Gray Whales Displaying Rolling Behavior


Shallow Gray Whale Dive

We waved goodbye to the pair and headed home. Much to our surprise, we saw a little blow just off to starboard. Captain Troy slowed down and we watched little fluke prints heading south in a straight line. Patiently, we waited for a closer look. It was a juvenile gray whale, making its first independent migration to Mexico. Good luck little guy, you’re almost there! We pealed off and headed back to our home port at the San Diego Maritime Museum.

Juvenile Gray Whale


Hip hip hooray! Ten California brown pelicans, three gray whales, two types of pinnipeds, and a beautiful humpback whale. It was certainly a fun whale watching experience on the water today. See you tomorrow!

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