Thanks to a partnership between the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises, whale watching in Long Beach kicked off this past December with the Winter of Whales, where guests have the opportunity to see migrating gray whales and other species along our Southern California coast. During the cruise, passengers have the opportunity to embark on their whale watching excursion with an Aquarium expert (select times) as you delve deep into conservation issues affecting whales in urban water, and learn about the diversity of whale populations and other marine life found off the coast of Southern California.
Whale Watching in Long Beach
We jumped aboard our first whale watching excursion this past week, an experience that has been on my bucket list for years, and to be honest I was a bit nervous about our whale watching in Long Beach trip.
First, there was the weather. It had been raining all week in Southern California and there was a chance of rain the day of our trip, and the last thing I wanted to do was to be on a boat for two and half hours in the rain. That's not my idea of fun. Then, there was the fact I've never been on a boat in the ocean before and everyone around me kept telling me how sick I was going to get, especially going just after/during a storm. Add into that that it was just going to be me and my four young kids who have never been on a boat, and you can see why even I started questioning my own sanity. Did I mention it was also Friday the 13th? It was.
But, despite my fears, my desire to another item off my bucket was stronger and Friday morning we loaded up the car, packed a few extra layers of clothes, and drove down to Long Beach for what would become one of our family's most memorable experiences, whale watching in Long Beach.
Quelling the Fears of Sailing
Let's talk about some of my silly fears before the trip. First, was the weather. Even if it would have rained, the weather would not have been an issue. Harbor Breeze Cruises is a premier cruise company with double-deck sightseeing vessels built specifically for the Long Beach Harbor. There's stadium seating at the front of the vessel for those who wish to be one with nature, and a spacious enclosed cabin with tinted windows for those who prefer to stay indoors, or in the case of inclement weather. In addition to an enclosed cabin, the vessel features a snack bar, restrooms, and is wheelchair accessible.
Yes, the ocean was a bit choppy the day we went out after the storm, but we all survived and no one became seasick. If you do feel a little uneasy or queasy on the boat, simply find a crew member and let them know how you feel. They'll give you tips on how to quell your tummy troubles and direct you towards the back of the boat where you won't feel the motion as much.
And lastly, my kids. I do a lot of events and for the most part, everyone is very kind when it comes to having children present, but when the event has a potential danger like the ocean, I know it's more than just me who is a bit stressed seeing a parent-child ratio of 1:4. This is why I can't write about our experience without mentioning the crew from Harbor Breeze Cruises.
The crew from Harbor Breeze Cruises was so kind and welcoming towards our young children. Of course, their first priority is to keep everyone safe, but they do it in such a way that our kids felt comfortable, included, and welcome the entire trip, making our adventure one our kids are still talking about today.
Best of all, even though the crew members host excursions every day, they still get just as excited at spotting animals in the ocean as us first timers. Which is just plain awesome!
Winter of Whales
The 2016 seasonal sighting count of animals off the Southern California coast are impressive and passed many of 2015's numbers. Season totals this year include: 253 Blue Whales, 780 Gray Whales, 311 Orca (Killer) Whales, 618 Fin Whales, and 300 Humpback Whales. While we did see Gray Whales on our excursion, the dolphins definitely stole the show.
Common dolphins swimming with our boat.
Seriously, nothing makes my heart happier than seeing these animals happily enjoying life in the wild.
Even though the dolphins stole the show, the heartwarming moment of the day was watching a mama gray whale with her calf, escorted by a pod of dolphins.
After your cruise, head back to the Aquarium of the Pacific to listen to the whales and learn more about whale communication through the Aquarium's interactive Whales: Voices in the Sea kiosk exhibit featuring the largest and smallest whales on the planet – the blue whale and the vaquita.
And you don't want to miss the gorgeous sights of Long Beach visible only from a boat.
Check out the fun recap of our trip in the video below, and we hope to see you on the next boat!
Don't miss your chance to embark on a boat excursion to see the migrating gray whales, dolphins, and possibly other species as this Winter of Whales. This whale watching in Long Beach experience runs now through April 2017, before the gray whale season comes to an end.