Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blue Whale Trip with Aquarium of the Pacific aboard Harbor Breeze Cruises

Dylan and I recently had the opportunity to join Aquarium of the Pacific on a special Blue Whale Trip with world-renowned Blue Whale expert, John Calambokidis aboard Harbor Breeze Cruises. This was not an ordinary whale watching trip. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that required me missing work and Dylan missing school.

Anyone who knows Dylan, or reads this blog, knows how much he loves animals and learning about how to save the planet - one animal at a time.
Me, well I'm partial to marine animals. Specifically dolphins and whales. Many people don't know this, but many moons ago I majored in Marine Biology. Yes, this was my first choice of study ... until I realized how much math and science were involved, which have never been my strong point.

So tell me, how many people can say that they have seen a Blue Whale, the world's largest animal, up close and in person ... swimming wild and free in the ocean?

Photo courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific, Kera Mathes
Well, you can add two more people to whatever that number may be because Dylan and I saw not one Blue Whale, but four Blue Whales!

The weather wasn't looking good - it was pouring down rain! By the time we arrived the rain and slowed to a light mist and things were looking good. Nothing was going to stop us from this adventure.

The excitement started as soon as we boarded and as we headed out of Long Beach Harbor the excitement grew. Passing the Queen Mary, spotting sea lions playing on the buoys, sea birds gliding just inches above the water, the shipyards, the lighthouse ... and then finally open water.

Dolphins welcomed us to their home by leaping out of the water and riding the bow waves.

For over two years now, the Aquarium of the Pacific has been partnering with Cascadia Research Collective to identify individual whales off the coast of Long Beach and the surrounding cities. John Calambokidis shared the initial results of the this research with us today as we set off to see these magnificent creatures on Harbor Breeze Cruises with Captain Dan. 

One of the largest populations of the highly endangered Blue Whale resides right here in Southern California. Unfortunately, the place these animals call home is what we call the shipping lanes. With the use of GPS tags and satellites, which John Calambokidis has been placing on the Blue Whales, we are able to learn the swimming patterns and dive depths of the whales. The data also shows that the whales are surfacing more frequently at night ... the same time that the shipping lanes are more active.

One of the GPS devices that was placed on a whale the day before was retrieved on the way out to sea.


Analyzing the data
Soon after, we spotted our first Blue Whale ... Thar She Blows!


This had to be the most amazing and memorable experience that I will ever have with my son. The love we both share for these creatures has no bounds. We will forever be exploring new ways to teach others how to appreciate and protect all animals who call the ocean their home.

Dylan's reaction after seeing his first Blue Whale
Before we knew it, we were surrounded by Blue Whales. As we watched one surface to the right of us, we could hear the blows of another one to left of us. It's almost as if they were coming to say hello, welcoming us to their home - knowing we were there to help them and not harm them.

As it came time to head back, I captured this picture of Dylan and I believe it says it all.

The joy of seeing the Blue Whales and the thought of going home left mixed emotions with both of us. The things that Dylan says sometimes make me forget that he is only 8 years old. The ideas he comes up with and the questions he asks are beyond me.

I mean really, shouldn't a child be thinking about playing with his friends and the new video game he wants rather than how to help animals? How to save the world from pollution? Yes, you would think. But not Dylan.

Lucky for us, Bryce needed a little help getting us back to the harbor and Dylan was more than happy to help him out.

The crew was wonderful. If you haven't been aboard Harbor Breeze Cruises, you need to book a cruise today! Harbor Breeze Cruises has been providing public Whale Watching, Worldport, and Charter Cruises for over 19 years in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. The double-deck sightseeing vessels are U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified safe for all ages. There is ample room and seating outside for viewing, a restroom and inside you can enjoy a snack bar.

The cruise we took was unique because we had the honor of meeting John Calambokidis and learning from him first hand about his partnership with Aquarium of the Pacific. However, this doesn't mean that you can't learn from him too.

On November 17th John will be speaking in the Aquarium of the Pacific's Honda Theater about his Blue Whale research. Be sure to visit the aquarium's website for more information on this special event and to purchase your tickets.

Do you want to experience seeing the largest animal on the planet in the ocean like we did?

The Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises invite you to set sail with them for a chance to see endangered Blue Whales and find out how you can help these and other marine mammals through special narration by Aquarium of the Pacific biologists. This 3 1/2 hour whale excursion with Aquarium experts departs daily at 11:30 a.m. and  3 p.m. You can purchase the Blue Whale & Sea Life Cruise combo ticket on-site at the Aquarium of the Pacific or in advance by calling 562-590-3100.
Adults (12+) are $63.95, seniors (62+) are $55.95, and children are $39.95
Prices include admission to the Aquarium.

Harbor Breeze Cruises was also kind enough to offer this coupon to my readers. Simply print this coupon and bring it with you to receive a free child's ticket when a full fare adult ticket is purchased. Hurry, this offer is for a limited time!

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