Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How To (Not) Go Whale Watching

Each year gray whales migrate south to the warm waters of Baja California to have babies and make babies.  And each spring they migrate back north to the cool, food-rich waters of Alaska.  On their migration north, they stay close to shore in shallower waters to protect their babies from predators such as Great White Sharks and Orcas.  They stay so close to shore that you can see them.  The annual migration north has begun.

So on Saturday, Vol Fan and I went to an observation point that is manned by volunteers doing a daily whale count.  It is a little jut of land called Coal Oil Point.  And yes, it is called that for a reason - oil is present here and you can smell it!  There is a natural seep in the area.  But once you reach the ocean, the constant wind blows the odor away.  Or we got used to the smell... 
A seep in the area means that there is tar present on the beach.  Tar can stick to your feet and can make a REAL mess in the shower when you try to wash it off.  Not that I would know anything about that... 

Vol Fan and I arrived at the observation point mid-morning armed with the long lens on my camera and binoculars and beach chairs and sunblock and drinks and snacks.  Ready for a full day!  And so we sat...gazing intently at the sea...watching...waiting...ever hopeful...

And we sat....gazing intently at the sea...watching...waiting...ever hopeful...

And we sat...gazing intently at the sea...watching...waiting...ever hopeful...

Then we received word that the volunteers had been contacted by the many whale watching tour boats as well as whale watching tour helicopters and there were no whales in the area.  Dang!

So we packed up and left.  We went to the small town of Isla Vista.  What a fun little town!  It's sole purpose is to provide housing/food/entertainment to students at UC Santa Barbara.  We found a little pizza joint and grabbed a table on the patio.  I determined that it would be hard to study at this university - too many fun things to distract you!  And seriously, I had never seen so many people on bicycles!

Later that evening after we had returned home, I got on the blog for the whale watching post.  Yep, you guessed it.  Within an hour or so of our departure,  whales were spotted!  Guess we will have to try again!

4 comments:

KisstheCook said...

I just jumped over here from the Jason show... and I'm so happy I did! I went to UCSB and lived in IV, and it indeed was difficult sometimes to leave the sunshine and sit in lecture halls. But on the other hand, I got to study on the beach... head to class... and then back to the beach. It was like a few years of hanging out on the beach with some school interrupting sometimes. I sure miss those days. I could go for a beer, a patio, and some people watching.

As for the tar? Rub baby oil on it. It comes right off. See, I did learn something in college!

Jason, as himself said...

What a bummer! Keep trying. I've lived here in SoCal for 18 years and have still never even tried to go whale watching. For shame!

Life with Kaishon said...

No way! I hope it works out next time!
The college town sounds like so much fun. I always love driving through the University of Penn or Drexel in Philly because that young vibe is just SO cool!

Busy Bee Suz said...

How disappointing; but not a wasted day nonetheless!
I grew up with tar on my feet!!!