to Our Eyes and Ears
have all heard about whale watching season, which in
Southern California runs from the end of December through
March. This year, instead of missing yet another season,
we suggest you hop in a car and drive up to Oxnard,
which is easily accessible from the surrounding areas,
via the Pacific Coast Highway or the 101 Freeway.
gray whales (scientifically called Eschrichtius robustus)
spend their summers in the Arctic Ocean in the high
northern seas of Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort. During
the winter months, they migrate to warmer waters along
the coast of the U.S., heading for Mexican lagoons.
The pregnant females give birth in this protected environment
and raise their calves. Others travel to find mates
or just to enjoy warmer temperatures. The annual migration
lasts two to three months, and the whales can migrate
distances of 6,000 miles each way. During their long
journey, they pass through the Santa Barbara Channel.
a 40-minute boat ride, on a Speed Twin boat, keep your
eyes peeled and be prepared to spot whales: first the
breathing spray, then the tail. It goes fast, but wait
another two to three minutes, and there it goes again.
The spout of the gray whale rises ten to thirteen feet
above water, and the blow is so noisy that it can be
heard half a mile away. The boat captain follows their
slow path for a while, so you can see more of the graceful
dance. They usually congregate in small pods of about
two or three. Larger groups form in feeding waters,
but these are loose, temporary associations.
gray whales only have three natural predators: orcas
(killer whale), large sharks and humans. You can expect
to find the first two during your mini-cruise. The day
we went, we encountered the black and white predators.
Unlike gray whales, which swim at the slow speed of
two to three mph, orcas, the faster member of the dolphin
family, can reach top speeds of thirty mph. And like
dolphins, they enjoy—or at least it feels like
they do—playing around the boat. They go so fast
that you never know when and where they are going to
try to touch them
are known to swim in the area, and you are likely to
encounter them as well. Prepare your cameras in fast
mode and wear warm clothes for a boat ride—and
a great family trip—to remember!
4151 S. Victoria Avenue
Oxnard, CA 93035
Daily tours in season 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 p.m. to
4 pm. $25 for adults, $15 for children under 12, $20
for seniors. Snacks available on board.