Get stoked, whale watchers. You don’t have to trek all the way up the cold north to get a glimpse of more than a hundred whale cow and calf pairings that are making their way to the Arctic.
You don’t even have to get on a boat and re-discover what you ate that morning. Just bring your binoculars, your telephoto lens and some patience to the beach.
Surfers and beach patrons have been getting up-close-and-personal looks at these underwater mammals just a quarter mile off the coast at Francis and Montara state beaches.
Over the next two weeks, whole parades of gray whale females and their babies will make their annual migration up the coast of California.
An extra warm spring last year is thought to have opened up more feeding areas towards Arctic circle, so a higher number of whale cows and their young will be making the trip this year.
Boat captain Tom Mattusch told the Half Moon Bay Review he’s seeing more whales this year:
“We’ve been seeing a lot of them up real close. Typically when the whales come up, you can see they have their babies with them and they’re teaching the youngsters how to feed.”
Gray whale expert Wayne Perryman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association told the Review that the heightened availability of food last season might have resulted in more female whales giving birth, hence the greater number of whale sightings along the California coast this year:
“So far we’ve seen 115 cow and calf pairs. Last year at this time, we had seen about 70… This is a really good year.”