State/National/WorldNews Briefs

First Blue Whales of the Season Spotted Off Dana Point Shores

DANA POINT— The majestic return of blue whales to Dana Point’s waters signals the beginning of the season’s marine spectacle. On April 28, Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching had the privilege of encountering two of these magnificent creatures, an experience reserved for a fortunate few.

Donna Kalez, COO of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, remarked, “Everybody got a blue whale button that says that they’re part of the “1-Percent Club,” since less than one percent of the population has ever actually seen a blue whale in person. The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, so to see them here in Dana Point is another reason why we’re the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World.”

Typically, blue whales make their appearance in early May, with sightings continuing through November when conditions are most favorable, with ample krill, their primary food source.

Capt. Steve Burkhalter of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching reflected on the variability of each season’s return, noting, “How many animals we see really depends mostly on the food, and there’s definitely been krill in the area.”
Warm weather, associated with El Niño, has brought about an abundance of marine life sightings in recent weeks. Blue whales, known to consume 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of krill daily, follow the concentrations of their preferred food source.

During a special eight-hour charter aboard the Ocean Adventure, Burkhalter and Capt. Todd Mansur spotted the blue whales approximately seven miles off Laguna Beach’s coastline. The encounter was captured live on Facebook, showcasing the rare sight of a male blue whale, approximately 60 feet in length, porpoising through the water’s surface.

A pod of orcas also was observed, originating from Newport Beach and eventually making its way to Dana Point. Among the orcas was the rare all-white orca named “Frosty,” believed to belong to a pod of Bigg’s killer whales.

With an abundance of marine life gracing the waters of Southern California, opportunities for whale watching have never been more abundant. As Kalez aptly puts it, “It’s just tremendous; we have so much life in our oceans.”

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