Last Sunday I went whale watching for the second time in my life, I used a Groupon deal and invited an old roommate of mine out for a bit of adventure. My excuse to get her to come out this way was it was for her birthday (though her birthday was in November).

We set off from Channel Islands harbor, and immediately spotted some dolphins playing near the surf before we even got around the last breakwater.

After that, our captain decided to make for an area he normally doesn’t go to because he’d heard humpback whales were spotted there. We spent some time cruising along at a fairly brisk pace, fast enough that a group of kids at the bow let out some whoops and yelps each time we hit a swell.

My friend had applied a seasickness patch prior to the trip, during one swell I turned to her, “Just pretend you’re riding a horse!” She did fine, though it was probably more due to the patch than my advice.

For awhile we just saw the ocean, the distant islands and oil rigs through the morning haze, and seabirds. And then… we saw the whales. “Thar she blows!” someone shouted. Ok… no one really shouted that. But someone did point excitedly to get the captain’s attention. After a bit, the captain idled the engine and the magic started to happen. We had come upon two very curious humpback whales. They seemed to want to check us out as much as we wanted to look at them. They circled around our boat and even went under it. At one point, one was pretty much floating exactly perpendicular to our starboard side, and stuck part of its mouth out of the water.

A humpback whale says hello in rainbow language
A humpback whale says hello in rainbow language

Then the whales started spouting at us. So much so that those of us on the bow all ducked under the spray. It was hilarious fun… though I must say, whale’s breath is one of the less pleasant smells I’ve experienced. Don’t they have a baleen brush or something? When I got home and read about humpback whales, I learned that their breathing is voluntary, that they possibly only turn off part of their brain when they sleep because of this. So if they breathe voluntarily… were these whales purposely giving us a spray?

The whales stuck around for quite some time, though aside from that one moment I had with the whale which gave me a rainbow show, they were constantly in motion.

Finally they moved away. I was sad to see them go. Then, perhaps for one last show, they started breaching. First one and then the other breached as they made their way away from us. Our captain said, “You see this every day!” in a joking tone of voice. At one point, I heard him say as he was leaning out of his window with a camera, “I hope someone got this because I ran out of memory!”

We were late getting back into the harbor. But it was well worth it.

I’ve included a slideshow of my shots below, you can click on a photo to see it in my adventure photography gallery where you can view it larger and purchase prints.