11 North Bound Gray Whales

Spyhopping Gray Whale to the right in this photo with Santa Catalina Island in the background.

11 North bound 0 South bound

The full moon brought a spring high tide and a spyhopping gray whale in close to shore. A dolphin displayed tail lobbing behavior. Eight whale sightings included: 11 whales, 1 harbor seal, 1 sandpiper, half a dozen harbor dolphins, a handful of sea gulls, a trio of pelicans and cormorants. One pair of whales traveled through with frequent alternating blows. One whale displayed feeding behavior in the surf as is made its way through the transect. Another whale seemed to be having a spa day, resting in the murky tide with flippers up, alternating with belly rubbing along the bottom with simultaneous head lifts and fluke lifts.

Two gray whales on the northern migration.
Gray whale head to tail lift with partial fluke above water.
Sandpiper hunting as the tide goes out.
Gray whale flippers up, back floating.
Dolphin lob tailing

Blue Skies Gray Whales

Looking south across the Santa Monica Bay at snowcapped Mt Baldy in the distance with giant coreopsis in near full bloom.

5 North Bound Gray Whales 0 South Bound

The skies were bright blue with large white cumulus clouds moving south. The cold N NW wind was strong and gusty at 25 +mph, nearing 7 on the Beaufort Wind Scale. Despite the rough choppy ocean, 5 gray whales were spotted in 5 sightings over three and half hours. The whales were all within 200 yds of shore and traveling at a steady pace. A few bubble blasts but not much milling today. The water was murky after the recent rain and with foam along the tide line. The gusty wind and blowing sand made it hard to track the northbound whales past the transect.

Two Pairs of Active Mother and Calf Gray Whales

5 Northbound 2 Calfs 3 Sightings 6.25 Hrs

Hazy at horizon, no islands visible north or south, sunny, 63 degrees with flat,calm ocean changing to brisk cold breeze late in the afternoon/early evening.  Three hours until the first sighting, an active  mother and calf pair. The calf took a short cut through the kelp bed fluking as it caught up to the mother which was partially glowing under the water, covered in barnacles and scars. The second sighting was a single whale followed by the 3rd sighting another mother and calf pair which stopped three times along the transect area for 12 min or more each time to roll, back float, bubble blast, spyhop and head lift with feeding behaviors as well.  In other news OTTERS were spotted in Ventura Ca ! I will be on the look out for any sightings as well.



During a 12 minute stop along the migration route this gray whale calf had several direction changes south then north, east then west before settling on north and traveled close with its mother to the next stop to do it all over again for another 12-15 min before traveling through the transect area. 2018-04-20-gray-whale-pt-dume-7343

Mother gray whale back floats while nearby  calf rolls in the opposite direction with pectoral fin up.


Gray Whale Shut Out Until 6pm!

0 Northbound 0 Southbound 0 Calf 2 EW 3 hours 

Clear skies, sunny at 60 degrees, hazy horizon, no visible islands north or south, steady brisk cold breeze with choppy water and white caps. Not one sighting in 3 hours or  known observations from several reliable eyewitness’s on the look out through out the day  until finally  a pair of whales were spotted  passing the transect at 6pm !


The Mourning Dove (Zenaidura macroura)  the most common species of dove found in North America.  Diet: Seeds and grain.

Call: Mourning doves give a mournful oowoo-woo-woo-woo. 

Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal and peace.

Gray Whales Hurray!

6 Northbound     2 Calfs      2 EW       6 hours   2 Fin whales 

62 degrees, light breeze, clear skies and calm clear water. Hazy smog layer blocking sight of all islands leaving limited visibility both north and south after a ~ 3 mile clearway.

The first of 2 gray whale sighting included a pair of adults traveling through steadily across the transect.

2018-04-18-two-gray-whales-pt-dume-6955The second sighting was 2 pairs of cow/calfs which also  traveled through with speed and precision  stopping at 2 spots along the transect for  5 min and then moving on.


2 fins whales were spotted less than a mile offshore milling before  heading south.( this photo was taken 2 weeks ago near Anacapa Island)


The water near shore was crystal clear at the surf break and the dolphins were traveling both north and south surfing in the waves and playful twirling underwater coming up at one time in a back float position.

Gray Whales,Dolphins,Planes, Birds & Boats Oh My!

26 Northbound 0 Southbound 6 hours 12 Sightings

95% Visibility with hazy horizon, clear view of all islands north and south with Gusty winds. A juvenile red tail hawk was flying low overhead just after the 1st sighting of the day which had an interesting identification mark on the right, distal dorsal hump area.2018-03-17-hawk-pt-dume-74562018-03-18-gray-whales-ID-pt-dume-7730

Dolphins interacted with a courting group 300 yards off shore with grebers nearby. Earlier a small pod headed southbound navigating through the obstacle path along the shore today.



Several helicopter flyovers today with varying degrees of noise levels and speed.


Close encounters with dolphins, swimmers and paddlers along the intersecting use lines.


One whale with identifying teeth rake marks on right side knuckle shows evidence of a possible orca interaction.2018-03-18-whale-scar-pt-dume-7497

Three boats traveling FAST  on the northern side of Santa Monica Bay outside the kelp beds, along the whale migration path route the mother and calfs whales often use.  Today’s sightings and observations traveled along paths further out as they headed into the point. 2018-03-18-boats-little-dume-cove-pt-dume-7599

Gray whale flukes as paddler follows close behind, stealthy low profile footprints  as it travels along the coast heading out north west to deeper water passing the buoy 400 yards out.


A pair of gray whales traveling closely heading north west on the northern migration to Alaska.


Happy St Patricks Day 32 Gray Whales in 18 Sightings

32 Northbound 0 Southbound 10 hrs 1 EW 

 18 sightings on St Patricks Day, the 17th of March 2018!  Whale counting and observations started with a Great Egret perched on the fence along the walk in, hunting from above.


Three gray whales traveling through so fast the blow mist is still on the surface of the water as one is sounding for a deep dive, with the other two keeping pace. The center whale has a distinct identification mark on the right side.

2018-03-17-three-gray-whales-pod-pt-dume-7208Four gray whales on the northern migration, one at the surface exhalation blowing, one under water glowing and two behind. This quad pod is traveling through the Point Dume Preserve Marine Sanctuary  migrating to Alaska.

2018-03-17-four gray-whales-pod-pt-dume-7131One gray whale changed directions in the underwater canyon area in the middle of a larger group of 4-5 whales in a mating courtship before heading northbound with the group above.  The lighter color of this whale is due to scaring from when the barnacles and whale lice fall off  leaving white marks behind. This whale was trackable from a few miles away as it crossed the Santa Monica Bay and reached the transect area.

2018-03-17-gray-whale-glow-underwater-pt-dume-7262One gray whale  spyhopped as another whale continued on and traveled through.


Here is the outstretched fluke of one whale with the blow of another whale right before these two switched places being submerged and above the water in a very active courting group.2018-03-17-gray-whales-fluke-blow-mating-pt-dume-7364

Every day there are plane flyovers and this day there was four at once in a vintage air show exercise passing over the point in the late afternoon as whales continued the courting and mating behaviors without interruption this time.


Gray whale blow glowing in the soon to be setting sun in gusty winds and choppy seas.


What do you see in this cloud as the sun was setting? A rabbit, a heart or a seated teddy bear with button limbs? or all of the above? I see a seated bunny rabbit looking west, holding a heart with a hearts shaped tail, legs, wings and ears 🙂



Rain or Shine: Gray Whale Migration and Mating


Today the RAIN came down in buckets alternating with continuous drizzle for several hours in 56 degrees weather before the sun came out mid day and ended the evening with more rain.  The early morning cloudy skies and   limited visibility didn’t stop the whales from migrating or stopping along the Malibu coast to spyhop and show their ventral throat grooves or mate in large and small groups today. At noon there was one group of 4 whales stampeding all in a row directly  into the cove to join a group of 3 already there!  Drone flyer and Malibu photographer Henry Hungerland captured respectful and responsible, mating behavior  late in the day. Henry has been observing and photographing  whales for over 10 years and has seen a few mating groups this year up to a mile out with his drone.

34 Northbound 0 Southbound 5.5 Hours

GRAPHIC WARNING!!!!!! Five Gray Whales Mating Courtesy of Henry Hungerland Photography Drone footage




The Gray Whales Celebrate 3.14 Pi Day 2018


Today is 3.14 also known as Pi Day!

Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

The whales showed up in celebration with  the seasons highest count!  30 whales counted in pulses that lasted all day bringing the total count with reliable eye witnesses to 101 whales! My personal count was 38 which started with a group of 5 with another 3 joining in leaving 8 whales in view in a space of 150 yards! It was hectic and challenging to keep track of all the sightings as the whales joined and moved on over the course of 4 hours. Early in the morning 25 whales were spotted before 9am and then another 30 spotted in the next two hours with whale watchers all over the viewing area in awe! Off duty Lifeguards came to see, watch and count too! The entire viewing area was a standstill, no one wanting to move until the whales moved on! Jaw dropping endless spyhops, back floating, pectoral fins up and flukes out of the water it was like whale soup. The day ended with the clouds rolling in from the north blocking the sunset.

38 Northbound Whales 0 Southbound Whales 7 hours



Breaching Gray Whale

Why do (Gray)Whales Breach? There are several theories including, communication tool between the whales socially or as a warning,  loosen parasites from the skin or for pure playful fun and enjoyment.  However,  research done in 2016 by  Rachel Cartwright PhD. who studied humpback whales, determined that the exertion required to leap out of the ocean increases the level of myoglobin levels in young whales. Similar to  hemoglobin in humans, myoglobin carries oxygen in the muscles of whales which  allows the whales to be able to dive for longer periods of time.

Today, the first of sixteen sightings began with one of three gray whales breaching along the northern migration route. It is not the best technical photograph  or clear what the whales intention was but it is of value showing a large prominent identification mark just above the right pectoral fin. If you see this whale in the future please  take a photo and post a comment or send an email.

The rest of the day had many whale-human interactions, close encounters, and observations from paddle boarders, boats, drones and planes flying over.

30 Northbound  3 Southbound 3 EW 9 hours



Paddle boarders over the canyon where the whales stop along the migration route for mating behaviors, feeding behaviors and resting behaviors.


A Gray whale’s eye can be seen just under the water just before surfacing for a full exhalation.


Studying  the whales behavior as fast moving yachts, power boats and fishing vessels  transect the whale migration paths. Similar research and documentation has helped to move the cargo shipping lanes further off shore and prevent whale injuries or death from shipping collisions.