Home > Aquarium Blog > Flippers, Fins, and Flukes, OH MY!

Flippers, Fins, and Flukes, OH MY!

Kera's avatar

Education | Whale Watching | Mammals

Thursday, April 30, 2009


About a year ago, I was out on the boat as usual and was super excited to see all of the animals in the area. At this time, the gray whales had pretty much finished up migrating through our waters. We’d still see a few stragglers here and there. This was also the time that humpbacks poked their heads into our waters. Around this time every year we get humpback whales that also pass through here. Their migration is a little different and the majority of the humpback whales we see are coming from Central America and Mexico. I’d recently seen my first two humpback whales, and couldn’t wait to hopefully find more. And boy was I in for a surprise! On May 1, 2008, I got a very nice showing. I saw flippers, fins, and flukes, oh my!

The day started like any other day on the boat. The weather was decent, the water was pretty calm, there was a boat full of people. We headed out into the open ocean in search of whatever we could find. It wasn’t long before the American Cetacean Society lookout radioed in and notified us that once again there were two humpback whales in the area. I was so excited! Remember, I’d only ever seen two humpbacks at this point. As we headed in the direction of the humpbacks, I got my camera out and ready, just in case. .

Once we got in the area, it wasn’t long before Captain Jason shouted out the famous call, “There she blows!” As we approached, I noticed that it wasn’t just two ordinary humpback whales we were looking at… it was a cow/calf pair (mom and baby). I started talking on the microphone and telling everyone about the whales we were seeing. For the first 15 minutes or so, they were just traveling at a nice cruising speed, and then they went down. The whole boat was watching at the bow (front of the boat) where the whales were last seen. Then we all hear someone shout, “Look in the back of the boat!” as the mama whale jumps clear out of the water. We just barely turned in time to see the mama splash. She had fully breached! Next came the baby, a complete breach out of the water! Wow!

We watched the baby breach, spy hop (head out of the water), and slap its fluke on the water for the next 35 minutes. I got some great photos. Eventually we had to turn around and head back to Long Beach. It was the most amazing day on the water I’d ever had… so far.

Two days later I was back on the water. As soon as we left the break wall we could see the splashing of breaching whales from over 3 miles away. When we got there, it was the exact same pair I’d seen two days earlier, only this time the baby was breaching over and over again! I saw the baby breach probably 30 times. Not only was the baby breaching, but also rolling on its side, slapping its fluke in the water, and fluking. Mama was having some fun, too. I saw her raise her huge fluke and slap the water. The splashing from the mama’s tail was the same size as the baby’s breach. There was so much power behind it! I was in such awe this day. I’d never seen ANYTHING like it! This is still the day I note as my most amazing whale watching day ever!

So it’s now the end of April and I can only hope that I get to see something similar to that of last year. I’ve recently spotted my first humpback this year. With any luck the pattern will repeat itself and I’ll be in the same boat as last year! Haha, that’s my lame attempt at making a joke! If anyone is interested in joining us on the boats in search of some amazing wildlife, click here for more information.

<< Back

Your Comments

Have Something to Say? Leave a Comment!

Hugh's avatar


Monday, May 04, 2009 11:47 AM

That is such a cool description of a humpback encounter! Hopefully you’ll see more of them on your upcoming trips. We’ve seen quite a few from Point Vicente this week lunging and feeding in the San Pedro Channel so your chances are good.

All blogs and comments represent the views of the individual authors and not necessarily those of the Aquarium.

<< Back