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Video: Gray whale makes surprise visit into Dana Point Harbor

When Capt. Dave Anderson headed out on his weekly trip to grab video for his virtual whale watch program called Sensorium Cetacean Safari, he didn’t have to leave Dana Point Harbor.

The program, one he and his wife Gisele Anderson came up with when their business was shut down due to the coronavirus situation, includes live and recent safaris with whatever ocean wildlife they find, a discussion about what they’re seeing, a special guest and some tips on the importance of connecting with nature.

On Friday, April 24, Anderson was heading out when he saw a gray whale swimming at the mouth of the harbor. After a bit, it made its way into the harbor and cruised almost halfway down the harbor’s outer channel.


Gray whales, which annually migrate from their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea of Alaska to the warm lagoons of Baja, are just nearing the end of their migration back up north. Most typically complete the journey by early May.

“This was probably just a juvenile,” Anderson said. “It may have been on its first time traveling. They travel really close to shore,  which is where the harbor is. They use echolocation and make sounds to figure out where they are. He probably just wanted to go that direction.”

While this was the first observed whale this year in the harbor, there have been others.

In 2017, a gray whale lingered in Dana Point Harbor for about seven hours, causing quite a commotion among harbor visitors, paddleboarders and kayakers. After seven hours, the Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol helped usher the young whale back out. It was later seen very close to beaches in Laguna and then swam into Newport Harbor, where it also stayed for at least a day.

Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Corn said Friday’s whale visit was brief.

“It varies year-to-year,” he said. “The same with dolphins. Some years we receive a lot of calls about whales inside the harbors, usually in Newport and Dana.”

Anderson will add the footage to his weekly show but is hopeful that he might be able to take actual passengers out on the water by May 1.

“We’ve been talking to OC Emergency Preparedness, Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard,” he said. “We hope to be able to take private one-family tours by Friday. The boat will be sanitized and there will be masks for all.”


Source: Orange County Register

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