Gray Whales in great numbers on the Santa Barbara Coastline

Gray Whales encountered on the ferry crossing to Santa Cruz in December of 2013. Rincon Mountain in the background.

I just recently watched the documentary film called The Whale. This film showcases the life of an Orca, named Luna, stuck all alone in the fiords of British Columbia; a place called Nootka Sound. It is a beautiful story about humans and whales that I highly recommend (bring along some tissues!).

If you have an urge to visit a whale in person, then the Santa Barbara Channel beckons you!

The amicable California Gray Whale will be making it’s journey Northward to it’s feeding grounds off of the coast of Alaska very soon. This Spring-time return journey from the Sea of Cortes takes the Gray Whale very close to the California coast, making sightings from shore or by kayak/SUP very possible.

The recent abundance of the Gray Whale is hard to ignore. Over the past 3 years the number of Gray Whales we have been seeing in the Santa Barbara Channel has more than doubled. With the increase in Gray Whales come more Orca, who feed on the unsuspecting and fragile Gray Whale calves. We’ve even seen more Humpback, Blue, Fin, and even an occasional Sperm Whale!

Scientists aren’t entirely sure why Southern California (especially the Santa Barbara Channel) is suddenly inundated by more Gray Whales and the sort; perhaps it’s the friendly nature of whale watchers and the whale’s deep desire to be famous! Or perhaps it’s the amazing healthy water of the Santa Barbara Channel that draws them in for a nice lunch break along their journey.

The Gray Whales can put on quite a show and are almost always good for a tail fluke or a splash!

[vimeo 85271865 w=500 h=409] Paddleboarders have even captured Gray Whales turning over to share a curious wink!

While in Southern Baja over the holiday break and I had the incredible fortune of listening to the Gray Whale song while freediving from my kayak less than 1/2 mile off shore.

So whether you like big boats, kayaks, or paddleboards… this Spring is surely going to be one of the best whale watching seasons we’ve had in quite some time… so get out there and share your joy!

Call us to learn more about how you can encounter a Gray (or other) Whale! 805-899-4925

Or check out one of these tours that offer a great chance of seeing whales:

Caves and Coves Classic at Santa Cruz Island
Santa Barbara Wilderness Area Kayak Journey

Thanks for reading, hope to see you on the water!

Garrett Kababik
CIO Co-Founder

It is our mission to save the oceans and natural places by fostering an understanding of them through education, adventures and outdoor experiences.