Did you know there is a creature with a heart the size of a Toyota Corolla, a tongue as heavy as an elephant, and a body longer than a regulation-sized basketball court that is lurking off the Orange County coast? Luckily, we have nothing to fear  (these giants eat krill, not people) and plenty to get excited about because there is no better place to go blue whale watching than right here in Orange County.

Blue Whale Watching 

Whale watching is much more than searching for a glimpse of an elusive endangered species. It's trading in a summer heat wave for a cool breeze and some salty sea air. It's taking in postcard-worthy views of the Laguna Riviera and watching your kids delight in a pelican they've named "Moe" who has decided to hitch a ride on the boat's stern for a while. It's spying sleepy sea lions bobbing on buoys and the overwhelming excitement of discovering a smiling pod of silver dolphins as they surf in the boat's wake.

The 2004 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Indonesia brought about shifts in the ocean's currents, leading to an increase in the krill population off the Orange County coast. Blue whales happen to think that eating krill for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the only way to dine, so they have been making their way to our nutrient-rich coastal waters for several years now. What was once an incredibly rare sighting has now become a daily occurrence for whale watching boat captains.

Blue whales are the largest animals on the entire planet.They average 100 feet in length and have a major artery that is large enough for a small child to climb inside of it. Before the extensive over-whaling of the
1800s, there were around 200,000 blue whales swimming in our Earth's oceans. The mass extermination of these creature resulted in their numbers dipping below 2000 before protection efforts were made. Luckily, protection seems to be working and there are now approximately 12,000 blue whales worldwide. Still, given their impressive size and growing population, only 1% of Americans will ever catch a glimpse of these gentle
giants.

Blue Whale Watching 

Allow your family to become part of the 1% by visiting Dana Point, a seaside town a quick 25 minute drive south of Irvine. Dana Point has quickly become one of the whale watching capitals of the United States, due to its pleasant weather and year-round whale watching opportunities.  Recently, my family headed out with Dana
Wharf Whale Watching to try our luck at whale spotting. We enjoyed a typical Orange County afternoon with sunshine and blue skies welcoming us out onto calm waters. It didn't take the captain long to point out the towering spray of our first blue whale of the day.  The whale graced us with her presence for a couple minutes before flipping its giant tail towards the sky and diving back down into the depths to feed.  Blue whales feed like clockwork, diving down deep for about 8-10 minutes before returning to the surface for a breath,
exhaling with a telltale spout into the air. When whale watching, those 8-10 minutes seem to move like molasses because every onboard just can't wait to catch another glimpse of the massive creature.There is just something so special about witnessing the largest animal to ever live on Earth going about its day. Our boat ended up spotting three blue whales that day, along with a minke whale, sea lions, and pods of two different types of dolphins.

For more information on whale watching excursions with Dana Wharf Whale Watching, visit their website.  Tip: if you are looking to save money,consider whale watching on Tuesdays when tickets are half price.