Big Blue

Right now, the waters near Dana Point offer one of the best chances for spotting the season’s biggest—and…

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Right now, the waters near Dana Point offer one of the best chances for spotting the season’s biggest—and endangered—star. No, it’s not Optimus Prime. It’s the 100-foot-long blue whale, the largest animal on the planet. For a rare opportunity to view this elusive giant of the seas, catch a ride aboard the Ocean Institute’s Blue Whale Safari; the 5-hour excursion departs from Dana Cove. Blue whales currently travel daily through the Dana Point Marina Life Refuge, relishing the nutrient-rich cold waters that have made Southern California a popular new feeding ground in recent years. Your experienced captain will explain the mysterious nature of the blue whale (very little is known about them, including their breeding behavior), adding to the thrill of seeing one. Timing is everything because blue whales can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes. Patience and a keen eye for spotting blowholes are helpful. While waiting, you’re likely to see pods of bottlenose dolphins catching a wave alongside the boat and possibly the deep-diving Risso’s dolphin, identified by white scars from a lifetime of undersea battles. Keep the camera handy to catch the blue whale breech. Wait, is that a blowhole? Fluke at two o’clock!

Blue Whale Safari trips are available July–September. Reservations are $57.50 each and include a continental breakfast. Parking is free.

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