March 09, 2012

Festival of Whales

LA Times "Now in its 41st year, the festival has grown from a small walking parade to a jampacked, four-day event attracting more than 100,000 visitors." By Katherine Tulich

'It was a clear day off the Dana Point Harbor last weekend as one of the many leisure boats headed off to search for the coast's regular visitors these days: migrating gray whales. It didn't take long before the captain announced two large adults had been spotted.

'Squeals of delight rippled through the passengers. "Everyone turns into a 5-year-old child when they see one of these magnificent creatures," said Doug Thompson, onboard marine naturalist for an excursion with Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. The boat followed the whales for an hour as they frolicked and rolled in the water. The gray whales seemed to be putting on quite a show.

'It's been a bumper season for cetaceans this year. By the end of February, 200 gray whales had been spotted off Dana Point (last year it took till the end of March to reach that number). Humpbacks and killer whales have also been seen, and a recent Internet video of a dolphin stampede in the area went viral.

'It isn't just a marine mammal mixer happening out at sea, it's also party time on land as Dana Point continues its annual two-weekend event, Festival of Whales. It began last week and drew big crowds to the casual, intimate Orange County harbor.'

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