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June 30, 2005 - Close Encounter of a Blue Kind
Story by Captain Dave Anderson

What a week! We saw lots of common dolphin, bottlenose dolphins, a few Mola mola's, and even an elephant seal, (that did not disappear like they usually do as soon as we got near it). But the big news is the blue whales.

On Saturday Morning we left the harbor at 8:oo am just ahead of the Ocean Institute's boat the Sea Explorer. Mike Bursk, skipper of the Sea Explorer and my friend, called me to let me know they were off to do one of their blue whale trips - they do about three trips a summer looking for blue whales.

I told him I would let him know if we saw any, (since we are always looking for these awesome giants on our trips). Mike said he was planning on heading out near Catalina to search and was not due back till about 5PM. He confided in me that he was not very optimistic since none of the fisherman he had talked to had seen any blues around, and we had not seen too many around here.

About 8:30 AM, I turned around to say something to Tom, who was driving the boat, when a passenger swore he saw what looked like a whale's tail in the distance up ahead.

I called Mike and we all waited and watched to see if it were true.

Soon the Sea Explorer and our boat were following not one, but three blue whales that were all moving together up the coast.

These three whales took turns getting close to our boats and Angie Cowan, one of the crew of the Sea Explorer, and I took turns taking photos of each other's boats. It was awesome fun and our passengers were delighted. By 10:00 am I asked Mike if he was ready to take his passengers back to the dock or would he try and keep them entertained till 5:00. He agreed that the rest of the day would probably be anticlimactic but they would go and search for more cetaceans.

On the next trip we got out near where a different blue whale had been spotted and shut off our engines. The whale surfaced nearby and started to turn towards us. It kept coming at us and went down just in front of the boat, (See Photo), so breathtakingly close I could have leaned over the side and touched it, and then it went down right under us. I decided to make sure it knew we were there, so I had Tom turn the engine back on, in neutral, so it could hear us. It surfaced just beyond our stern. Wow! Tom said that was the closest he remembered one getting to us in the four year he's been working with us.

We saw blue whales on all four of our Dolphin and Whale Safari's that day and one more on Sunday and then Monday we saw a blue whale on both trips.

- Capt. Dave Anderson

Capt. Dave Anderson runs Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari out of Dana Point Harbor. He recently completed the award winning documentary film "Wild Dolphins and Whales of Southern California." Capt. Dave will be sharing his photos and stories and letting us know what he and other skippers are seeing off the Orange County coast.

For a daily log of sightings see or call 949 488 2828.



Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari
24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Dana Point 92629 (949) 488-2828


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