Whale watching boat spots Blue Whale!
On a warm summer day, The Newport Legacy, a whale watching boat from Newport Beach, sat idle about four miles from Crystal Cove State Park as they waited for a large whale to emerge from the depths of the ocean. This whale was about 85 feet long, which was at least 10 feet longer than the whale watching boat. Finally, the titanic marine mammal surfaced with a powerful exhale from its blowholes, shooting a mist of sea water and whale breath up into the sky over 30 feet high.
This was a blue whale, the largest animal that’s ever lived on planet Earth. These gentle giants feed exclusively on tiny krill, only about the size of your pinkie, which are part of the marine plankton in the ocean. In Newport Beach, you can frequently encounter these whales during their summer migration.
Scientists believe that blue whales can feed on up to 40 million of these little krill in just a single day. Off the coast of Newport Beach, we are very lucky because a huge submarine canyon extends just a few hundred feet away from the beach, which can be over 2,000 feet deep within a mile from the coastline. This promotes an upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich water from the deep canyon, which rises toward the surface. This upwelling of nutrient-rich water promotes plankton growth, resulting in an abundance of bait fish like sardines, anchovies and herring.
This is exactly what the whales, dolphins, sea lions and marine birds chow down on, and it all can take place within a short distance from our coastline.
All year long, we can see whales off of our coast. In the summer, we thoroughly enjoy watching the massive blue whales, fin whales, minke whales and many species of dolphin cruising along the Newport Beach coastline, feeding on small schooling fish. In the fall through the spring seasons, we start to see gray whales making their annual coastal migration from Alaska to Mexico to breed and calve. So there’s really no better time of day, or better time of the year to enjoy whale watching!
If you happen to be an educator, Crystal Cove Conservancy partners with Newport Whales to offer our Marine Protected Area Science Cruise for 7th-12th grade students, which run from September through May. These educational STEM cruises take students out into Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area to collect data on the health of the ecosystem, acting as scientists.
Newport Whales also offers educational STEM Enhanced Whale Watching cruises for 3rd-6th grade students. During the program, younger students collect plankton samples and monitor birds and marine mammals while out on a whale watching trip. If you’re interested in heading out on a general whale watching field trip, Newport Whales offers discounted rates for all students, teachers, and chaperones onboard their whale watching cruises throughout the year. You can even add on an onboard Naturalist to your reservation to help enhance the onboard education.
If you’re interested in learning more about these programs please contact Newport Whales’ Education Coordinator Jessica Roame at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-675-0551 x118 Or visit their webpage to learn more: