By Susan Greene
As the minutes tick away, our carpool slowly cruises down the coast in our neighbor’s VW van. Their mother keeps her eyes peeled for the telltale spout of the California gray whale. Upon spotting one, she pulls over urging careful observation. This was my first introduction to the annual migration. The whales would surface several times spouting sea mist and then take a deeper dive indicated by the appearance of the fluke. The fleeting moment was gone, as was the chance to be on time to school. Every winter, I recall the thrill in her eyes. While I certainly did not appreciate the majestic creatures because I associated them with tardies, that is no longer the case.
It is exhilarating spotting one of the large creatures on its way to Mexico, especially when, on the rare occasion they are close to shore.
This one seemed to want to ride the wave. Every winter, since those carpooling years, I keep my own eyes peeled on the horizon from late December through March hoping for a sighting. More common but still exciting is spotting some bottlenose dolphins swimming in the surf.
The dorsal fin popping out of the water is the first and sometimes only sign. If your lucky, you will see a head pop out of the water.
Presenting the opportunity to see their smiling faces to anyone fortunate enough to be in the vicinity.
Inevitably, they will head back out to sea.
Saying “goodbye” with a wave of the fluke.
A dolphin sighting always elicits ooohs and aaahs from lucky walkers, joggers and/or beachcombers. I have begun a quest for catching dolphins in all their glory. I am hoping to capture at least one jumping and more of their behavior. I will be devoting at least a day a week for taking my camera to the beach, zoom lens attached, with dolphins in my sights, and if I spy a whale or two, all the better.
Click here to read and hear a story from NPR about a recent “traffic jam” of whales off the southern California coast.
With eyes on the horizon,