Wildflowers remain in abundance with new varieties coming in to bloom as other ones fade. Sunlife Organics is a local fresh juice and smoothie shop on the way in to Pt. Dume. My current favorite is the Vanilla protein smoothie with blueberries. This shake gives me enough energy and stamina to spot and count the sometimes elusive gray whales that migrate along the coast of Pt Dume. Today was a good day with calm waters and blue skies. I counted 22 whales and one cow/ calf pair in 7.5 hrs . All of the whales today were in close and stayed for 20 minutes or more at various stops along the viewing area. One pair of whales were small (yearlings), they rolled and swam over each other playfully for 30 min or more before moving on. Another sighting was a very active trio which stayed 175 yrs off shore for over an hour. One smaller juvenile whale stayed for over two hours changing directions heading north then south, resting several times completely layed flat out on top of the water floating quietly and gliding through the area slowly using its flippers to propel itself rather than the fluke. Several groups of bottlenose dolphins came through northbound and southbound at different times today. The water so clear you could see them moving through under the water. At times they swam with the whales and interacted then moved on quickly.
After a long morning of heavy thick fog and 5-10% visibility, the marine layer lifted just enough to see 17 whales pass along the coast in the afternoon. At one point there was a total of 7 whales in 3 different groups displaying nearly every whale behavior including, bubble blasts, spyhopping, fluke swishing, rolling, pectoral fins, audible blows and direction changes with mingling in different groups plus at times there was feeding behaviors with watery sand spilling out of mouths. Towards late afternoon,in less than 25 yards of on shore visibilty , three scuba divers came out of the water saying they had zero visibility under water and only saw the whales from the surface above water while under the fog layer themselves.
Spotting Gray Whales in heavy fog is difficult but not impossible as I learned today. In six hours I observed four migrating gray whales in three separate sightings. Listening for the audible blows in 5 % visabilty helped me identify one whale along with a very excited group of unsuspecting beach goers visiting from Echo Park.
After several days of choppy, rough white capped water making it nearly impossible to spot gray whales let alone the blow spouts, today the sky was blue, the ocean was calmer, the hills and mountains along the PCH are alive and carpeted with lush bright green mixed with bursts of bright orange and yellow wild sun flowers in full bloom. At the ocean along the shore you can see from nearly any viewing site the gray whales are migrating in both directions,north and south. It was a busy day counting and observing with 90% visability mild temperature of 64 degrees and strong winds as the day went on. The whale behavior today was varied from the whale photographed above with its head and fluke both out of the water to the complete opposite back floaters with the tip of the chin sticking out and tips of pectoral fins sticking out. In the 5.2 hrs I observed a dozen gray whales, a few sightings were far out along the horizon and several closer to shore merged with north and south bounders making it a busy observation counting day.
Today, following the calendar command to “march forth”, the gray whales traveled through our observation area with speed . The four hour sampling day ended with four whales in four stops along the coast at sunset displaying various gray whale behaviors including spyhopping, rolling, fluking and spouting heart shaped blows.
What a wonderful start to the month of March, seeing a gray whale breach on the migration north with a view of the Catalina Island in the background! This whale was very active breaching 3 times as well as spyhopping, rolling and showing pectoral fins for several minutes before traveling through with another whale following close behind. I watched this pair travel through the sunline out towards Anacapa Channel Islands.
Finally the clouds have moved out leaving a clear view towards the horizon and the Channel Islands to the north and Catalina Island to the south,allowing maximum visibility to see the gray whales migrating north. Today in the three and half hours I observed, two whales powered thru at top speed along with two separate boats also traveling at top speeds. Hundreds of dolphins and shore birds were seen stampeding miles out to the south and nearly one hundred sea lions stampeded close to shore in a brilliant display of acrobatic synchronized hunting tactics. Also seen today by a reliable eye witness (Pete) were four gray whales milling 250yds off the coast mid day. The giant ancient coreopsis are in full bloom all along the PCH and at here is the view yesterday from Pt Dume.
On this partly sunny 63 degree day with 65/35 percent visibility due to whispy clouds and heavy marine layer along the horizon blocking the view of both Catalina Island and Anacapa Channel Islands, one gray whale observed heading south 250 yards out from the pinnacles and another was observed in the surf passing bath house 3 todayin the 2 hrs I observed today. Lifeguard Kyle (a reliable eyewitness) observed 4 gray whales heading south earlier in the day. The road going in to Pt Dume is still closed at Westward but the road repair to the storm drain is nearly finished.
After over a week of heavy marine layer, wet rainy days with poor visabilty, today’s sunshine and 72 degree weather was welcomed. Erosion from the recent storms damaged a large run off pipe under the road leading to the beach causing it to be blocked off until the repairs are finished. Dolphins frolicked in the late afternoon as the sun was setting, one harbor seal in the surf, several sea lions up on sea lion rock, a dozen or more cormorants out on bird rock, a flock of sanderlings flitting along the tide line but not a one gray whale in the 3 hrs I observed today!