A year ago, Vic and I went whale-watching with the Orange County chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology on one of Capt. Dave Anderson's Dolphin Safari cruises out of Dana Point Harbor. It was the best whale-watching trip we had ever been on. When the conservation group organized another trip with Capt. Dave this year, we were the first to sign up.
There is nothing like an afternoon cruise on the ocean to beat the August heat. But on a Dolphin Safari cruise, we got a lot more than just a pleasant boat ride. We saw several fin whales, which were a new species for us, plus gigantic blue whales.
Summer in Southern California is the best time to see fin and blue whales. Fin whales are in the same family of whales, called rorquals, as blue, humpback, Bryde's, sei and minke whales. This group of baleen whales is characterized by having a dorsal fin plus throat grooves that expand when the whales are feeding.