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Whale Watching in San Diego

San Diego's coastline is ideal to watch the annual gray whale migration.

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Whale Watching in San Diego

Gray whale tail

courtesy of National Park Service
It's one of nature's great spectacles: the annual migration of the gray whales, one of the largest mammals on earth. And San Diego's coastline happens to be one of their passing points during their migratory trek to and from the frigid Arctic waters to the warm water lagoons of Baja California, where the females give birth to their calves.

Each year, around 26,000 gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) make the 10,000 mile journey from the Arctic Sea south to Baja and back. In fact, the gray whale's trip is the longest migration undertaken by any mammal.

Whale watching is a fun and memorable activity for anyone, young or old. To spot a gray whale swimming off our coastline is one of those awe-inspiring sights that makes you appreciate these gentle giants. Watching a whale breach (propelling their length out of the water, then crashing down) and spyhop (popping their heads up vertically for a good look around) is a sure way to appreciate the size and agility of these creatures, especially from up close.

According to the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, gray whales are most frequently seen off San Diego from late December through March. They generally travel alone or in pods of two or three; at the peak of migration, a dozen or more individuals may be seen together. Grays are relatively slow swimmers, cruising at an average speed of five knots (about six miles per hour). While swimming, they typically dive to a depth of about 100 feet for three to five minutes, then surface and blow, followed by a series of three to five shallow dives and blows before they dive deeply again. Figuring out the breathing and diving rhythm of a particular whale or pod of whales is the key to successful whale watching.

Read more about whale watching in San Diego on the following page...

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