Whale watching along the California Coast

The
annual migration of thousands of gray whales (up to 50 long and 45 tons each)
is now underway.  It begins in Alaskan and moves south along California‘s
coastline to birthing and breeding waters in Baja California.

 From December through March, visitors have the
opportunity to view the return of the gray whale, the state’s official marine mammal,
in a number of prime locations in California State Parks.  We have included a
listing to make your selection easier.

“Whale watching along our coast is a wonderful
and exciting family adventure,” said Ruth Coleman, director of California
State Parks.  “I would suggest a little research on whales along our
coast to get the kids primed, and then find a safe spot where crashing waves
won’t interrupt your adventure. And, bring the binoculars!”

On their journey, the whales move past Point Reyes,
the Farallon Islands,
through Half Moon
Bay and Monterey
Bay, and follow the coastline along
Southern California before reaching Mexico. The whales travel in small
groups and stay close to the shoreline for protection from predators, such as
killer whales.

Traveling 70 to 80 miles per day, the whales’ spouts
of vaporized water (at times reaching 12 feet high) can be seen as the whales
surface every three to five minutes to breathe. Their 12,000-mile round-trip
trek is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. The
whales’ migration pattern reverses when they lead their new-born calves back to
Alaska.

State park whale watching sites include:

 

HUMBOLDT COUNTY

Humboldt Lagoons State Park (Dry Lagoon),
phone: (707) 677-3121

Patrick’s Point State Park (Palmer’s Point and
Wedding Rock) in Trinidad phone: (707)
677-3570

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
(Gold Bluffs Beach),
phone: (707) 464-6101, extension 5300

 

MENDOCINO COUNTY

MacKerricher State Park
(Laguna Point) on the Mendocino Coast three miles north of Fort Bragg,
phone: (707) 964-9112 or (707) 937-5804

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

Julia Pfeiffer Burns
State park
(Vista
Point, Highway 1), phone (831) 667-2315

 

ORANGE COUNTY

Crystal Cove State Park (949) 494-3539

 

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Montaa de Oro State Park, phone: (805)
528-0513

San Simeon State Beach, phone: (805)
927-2035

 

SANTA
BARBARA
COUNTY

El Capitan State Beach (805) 585-1850

 

SAN LUIS OBISPO
OUNTY

Estero Bluffs State Park (805)
772-7434

 

California
State
beaches also offer
a number of programs and locations for viewing migrating whales. For details on
what programs are offered, contact the state park listed below or call (800)
777-0369 for general information on all state parks or go on line to www.parks.ca.gov

 

MENDOCINO
COUNTY

Manchester
State Beach

(707) 937-5804

MacKerricher
State Park
(707) 937-5804

Mendocino
Headlands State
Park
(707) 937-5804

 

MONTEREY
COUNTY

Garrapata
State Park
(831) 624-4909

Patrick’s
Point State Park (707) 677-3570

Point
Lobos State Reserve (831) 624-4909

Point
Sur State Historic Park (831) 625-4419

 

SAN DIEGO
COUNTY

Silver
Strand State
Beach
(619) 435-5184

 

SANTA BARBARA
COUNTY

Point
Sal State
Park
(805) 733-3713

 

SONOMA
COUNTY

Fort
Ross State Historic Park (707) 847-3286

Salt Point State Park
(707) 847-3221

Sonoma
Coast State
Beach
(707) 875-3483

 

CALIFORNIA WHALE FESTIVALS

 

Dana Point Festival of Whales

http://www.dpfestivalofwhales.com/home.html

 

Fort Bragg Whale Festival

Mendocino Whale Festival

http://www.mendowhale.com/events.htm

 

Point Mugu to Point Dume
Whale Festival
(Leo
Carrillo State
Park
)

http://www.parks.ca.gov/events/event_detail.asp?id=2184

 

Redwood Coast
Whale and Jazz Festival

http://gualalaarts.org/Festivals/2009WhaleJazz.html

 

Visit California State Parks on line at www.parks.ca.gov

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