An abundance of krill, the favored food of the Blue Whale, has drawn the world’s largest mammal close to the shoreline of the Golden State and provided whale watchers with a bumper crop of Blue Whale sightings this summer – another beneficiary of this phenomenon is the whale watch tour operator. Harbor Breeze Cruises operates harbor cruises, charters and whale watch tours out of Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach – their berth is adjacent to the aquarium. As the migratory season for Blue Whales is coming to an end fans of this magnificent creature should take the 3.5 hour Blue Whale tour with Captain Greg at the helm of the MV Christopher – a powerful 75 feet long catamaran – and head out in search of the largest mammal on earth.
A brisk 45 minute ride north will carry you out of the harbor and past the Point Fermin lighthouse in San Pedro. Built in 1874 this Victorian era lighthouse is one of a number of similar facilities along this treacherous stretch of coastline on the eastern edge of the Catalina Channel. Indeed, most of the whales that you will encounter will likely be between Point Fermin lighthouse to the south and Point Vicente lighthouse – built in 1926 – on the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the north. Here the deep channel provides a migratory path for a number of whale species including Gray and Humpback Whales. Traditionally Blue Whales have not been seen this close to shore – whether this is due to shifting blue whale migratory paths or cooler waters forcing krill closer to the shoreline remains unclear. In any event, it affords Southern California residents a rare opportunity to view Blue Whales in the flesh. Harbor Breeze cruises include staffers from the Aquarium of the Pacific who provide passengers with information about Cetaceans – an order of mammals which includes both whales and dolphins – and more importantly advice on how to track them above – and just below – the surface of the water. Check out the slideshow for some neat pictures of whales in the South Bay and further afield.
Although there will be occasions when you may not spot any whales or dolphins there is plenty of wildlife around. Harbor seals, sea lions, brown pelicans and numerous seabirds can be seen on most trips out into Santa Monica Bay – dolphins and whales are an added bonus. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as seeing these wonderful creatures from a boat but there are a number of ways you can go whale watching. If you’re on a limited budget take a pair of binoculars to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes or Point Fermin Park in San Pedro and watch the whales from the cliff top. Alternatively enjoy a romantic dinner on the cliff side overlooking the Catalina Channel at Nelson’s Restaurant – part of the Terranea Resort. Finally, if you want a bird’s eye view, consider taking a helicopter flight along the coast. Check out my Google Map of all these options to help you find your way around.
Long Beach Average Temperatures: Jan-March 46-67°F | April-June 55-74°F | July-September 63-83°F | October-December 50-73°F |
Harbor Facts:The Port of Los Angeles covers 7,500 acres with 270 berths whilst the Port of Long Beach covers 3,200 acres with 80 berths. Long Beach’s breakwater, a man-made rock jetty constructed in the 1920’s stretches nine miles – making it the longest in the world. If combined, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles would be the world’s sixth-busiest port complex.
Whale facts (from the American Cetacean Society): Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculuscan): Up to 108 feet long and can weigh up to 150 US tons. It is the largest mammal on planet earth. Blue Whales can be spotted along the coast June through December | Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae): Up to fifty feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons. Humpbacks can be spotted July-November | Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus): Up to 48 feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons. Gray Whales can be spotted along the coast December through May.
Whale Watching (by sea): Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises, 100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tel: 1-562-432-4900 | Redondo Sport Fishing, 233 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, California 90277. Tel: 1-310-372-2111. Check out my Google Map to help you find your way around.
Whale Watching (by land): Point Vicente Interpretive Center, 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. Tel: 1-310-377-5370 | Point Fermin Park, 807 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731 | Point Fermin Lighthouse, 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731 | Nelson’s Restaurant at the Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
Whale Watching (by air): Island Express Helicopter Tours, 1175 Queens Hwy Long Beach, CA. Tel: 1-800-228-2566
Places to Stay (Long Beach): Golden Shore RV Resort, 101 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tel: 1-562-435-4646 or 1-800-555-1212. 80 sites with full hookups (30/50 amp). Pool, Spa, Laundry, Store. Rates range from $55-$68 per day. Pets: $1 – there is an off-leash Dog Park at Broadway and Pacific Avenue or you can check out the Beach Dog Zone just off Ocean Avenue between Roycroft and Argonne. Read the review: Long Beach Golden Shore RV Resort: A perfect SoCal staycation destination
Places to Stay (Los Angeles South Bay) Dockweiler Beach RV Park, 12001 Vista del Mar, Playa del Rey, CA 90293. Reservations: (9am-5pm PST Monday-Friday): 1 (800) 950 7275 or 1 (310) 322 4951. 118 spaces, 114 regular spaces and 4 disabled spaces, all offering full hookups (water, sewer, 50amp and 30amp). Sites are all drive in or back in. There are no pull throughs. The maximum permitted length of an RV or Trailer is 37 feet. Each campsite has its own BBQ and picnic table and the campground also has a dump station, restrooms, showers, beach fire pits, and a Laundromat. Rates: Full Hookup $65 per day (Front Row) $60 per day (Middle Row) $55 per day (Back Row) | Additional vehicle: $7 per day (Summer) $5 per day (Winter) | Pets: $3 per day (2 maximum) | Check out my Google Map of all these options to help you find your way around.
- Blue Whales return to Los Angeles South Bay
- Orca Whale Watching in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
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Images furnished by Julian L. Gothard are provided to echoflam.com on a single use basis. All rights are reserved. No reproduction, copy, distribution or transmission of such photographs may be made without written permission from the author.