With our friend Anita in town, we decided to take advantage of our chance to have a little extra fun. And one thing that I find exciting is going out on the ocean (no surprises there).
We decided to take a whale watching trip since it is gray whale migration season. I have never seen gray whales before, and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. So, we set out on a beautiful but brisk afternoon cruise.
The sun felt nice against the cool ocean breeze, and the rocking boat made me feel right at home. We didn’t see much at the beginning, but we kept our hopes high and made sure to call for the whales in our best Dory whale voices.
Our high hopes were not crushed! We found two gray whales traveling north, back to their hunting grounds in Alaska.
A few fun facts about gray whales:
*Each year, the gray whale makes one of the longest migrations of any mammal on Earth. They travel from Alaska to the Baja Peninsula where they mate and give birth (that’s nearly 14,000 miles EACH YEAR).
*The barnacles found attached to their skin (the whitish markings you see in the photos) are unique to the gray whale. They are not found attached to any other animal — that we know of.
*They are in the family of baleen whales (as opposed to toothed whales) and can reach up to 50 feet in length.
You may also notice that they lack a dorsal fin — they are the only baleen whale without one.
I was excited to see the whales, and though I had hoped they’d come a bit closer, watching their spouts shoot in the air, followed by their rolling back, and finally their flukes, was certainly a sight to see.
We watched them for a while before moving on to see what else we could find. Part of whale protection is having a time limit for how long you can hang around — there’s a line between watching and harassing wildlife.
I was already happy with our whale watching trip by this point. And little did I know that it was going to get better!
We caught a glimpse of white-sided dolphins, but the real treat came when we stumbled upon a mega-pod of common dolphins. Countless dolphins were bow riding near our boat.
They were so close that we could hear them talking and could almost touch them! If I had reached my hand out while they were jumping, I may have been able to.
I quickly realized that the long lens on my camera was too long. I held it back from my face, frantically snapping photos as I watched the dolphins play (I got a lot of pictures of just water with this method).
As we looked out from the boat, we could see hundreds of dolphins surrounding us. It was absolutely one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. And I won’t lie, I was jumping up and down, squealing with joy as my eyes welled up with tears.
It was truly amazing.
The dolphins seemed so happy, so carefree. And I wondered how I could ever consider moving away from the ocean. How I could ever leave something that fills me with so much joy, wonder, and fascination.
I guess the answer is that I can’t. Not permanently at least. I know our future will lead us to different places, and I know it won’t always be near the ocean, but I know I’ll always come back.
I was proud of myself — for keeping myself together when I wanted to cry with so much joy, and for not experiencing it entirely through my camera lens. I made a conscious effort to put down the camera and make myself fully present in the experience. With wide eyes and an even wider smile, I looked up at Andy and he just knew. He knew exactly how I was feeling, and it seemed that he was feeling it as well. I think he got quite a kick out of watching me jump around on the boat, too.
As we headed back to shore, and eventually to dinner, I couldn’t help the smile on my face. It seemed the day was a success! We’d had another amazing ocean adventure.