Despite my therapeutic summer vacation in Alaska, I have been feeling extremely bitter because of recent environmental events, with little faith in humanity’s ability to preserve nature and protect public health. The American Chemistry Council’s successful multimillion-dollar campaigns to safeguard the rights of infants to ingest the potential carcinogen BPA and marine life’s right to swallow or become entangled in plastic bags would make any environmentalist angry. Throw in LADWP’s legislative shenanigans to sidestep California’s once-through- cooling power plant policy and the city council and anyone can see why I’ve been feeling a bit cynical.
Then came last Sunday. The Blues helped beat away the blues.
A bunch of Heal the Bay staff and volunteers had planned to go whale watching out of Redondo Beach. I had heard the stories of paddlers and kayakers hanging with Blue whales off of Redondo Canyon, but I had a few errands to run so I was going to skip the trip. Luckily, my wife Lisette ordered me to go because she knew that a morning on the water would do me some good.
Thank you Lisette and thank you Heal the Bay. Sunday morning was beyond incredible. If you haven’t gone out to see the Blues, shame on you. There is no way humanly possible to witness a more satisfying natural event in the Bay. We started seeing spouts within a half mile offshore. The boat was only a mile from the coast when we found ourselves surrounded by the magnificent mammals.
All in all, we saw about 30 Blue whales and they were all scarfing down krill above the Redondo Submarine Canyon. We were never more than three miles from Redondo Harbor. We saw males racing. We saw about 20 flukes. We saw two Blues feeding on the surface as they swam right at our boat. We even saw two humpbacks and schools of baby mola molas! We were all witnesses! Numerous paddlers floated with a few feet of feeding Blues. I can’t even imagine the emotions they must have felt.
I’ve lived here my entire life. This is the first time anything like this has ever happened in the Bay during my lifetime. The Blue whales started hanging out off of Santa Barbara in the channel about a decade ago. Three summers ago, I enjoyed the perfect day with my two sons. We saw about 30 Blue whales off of Santa Cruz Island in the morning and we made it back in time for lunch at La Super-Rica topped off by an ice-cold Bohemia (not for the boys!).
Every late summer in August and September, the whales have come to feed on the booming krill populations, but they never were more than transients in the Bay. But this August, it all changed. The Blues have been here for over a month and the feast may continue for the next few weeks. For some reason, the krill populations have been booming and the Blues have found a new summer home in the Bay.
People spend thousands of dollars to see Gray whales in Baja’s coastal lagoons, orcas off the San Juans or humpbacks off Alaska or Hawaii. The Blue feeding frenzy in the Bay may surpass all of those natural wonders. To see such an epic feeding display from the largest animals in Earth’s history is amazing. To see it in our own backyard with Palos Verdes and the South Bay in the background is an experience of a lifetime. Don’t miss out!