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Winter is the perfect time for whale-watching

Winter is the perfect time for whale-watching

The winter months are the prime season to go whale-watching in California.

POSTED January 7, 2011 9:37 p.m.

If the new year is bringing on a case of wanderlust, then a trip to the coast for some whale-watching might be just the cure needed.

The winter months are the prime season to go whale-watching in California, but there are opportunities to spot the leviathans almost year round.

From December to February Grey whales are headed south from Alaska to the warmer waters of Mexico to their breeding lagoons.

Between February to April the Grey whales are making the return trip with mothers and calves traveling slower and closer to shore.

From June to October Blue whales have been spotted swimming along the coastline in Monterey, Big Sur and the Channel Islands.

Between April to early December Humpback whales can be seen in the waters off the Central California coast.

The best option for whale-watching is to hop aboard one of the numerous cruise boats docked along California’s coastline. The quality of the cruise can vary widely depending on the services and amenities offered. A few questions to ask before selecting a cruise are:

• Does the ship use a sighting network with other ships?

• Is there a naturalist on board or someone who can offer information about the whales?

• How long is the trip?

• Will they offer an additional trip if no whale is seen on the first go-around?

• Is the boat certified by the Coast Guard?

To ensure the most enjoyable time on a cruise, passengers should dress in warm layers and bring a waterproof jacket with a hood. Sunglasses or a hat will cut down the glare from the water and don’t forget the sunscreen, regardless of the weather conditions.

Some of the best places to take a whale-watching cruise are: Channel Islands, Crescent City, Dana Point, Eureka, Fort Bragg, Long Beach, Monterey, Point Reyes, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.

If just the idea of rolling waves makes you nauseous, then a spot on the dry land might be a better alternative. A few good locations for whale-watching from the land are: Ferndale, Point Reyes, Big Sur, Morro Bay and Point Dume.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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