Winter is whale season in Quirkutopia. No we don’t hunt them, just hunt for chance to see them. The California Gray Whales migrate 6000 miles from Alaska to Mexico – longest migration any mammal undertakes. In the early winter they are heading south. Pregnant mothers leave first to race down there to warm water before their babies are born. Then courting trios party as they head down south. It takes three whales to mate – two males and the female. One male holds the female up while the other mates her so she won’t drown. Very courteous ménage-a-trois. The males never fight over her.
In late winter they start heading back north where the food is getting good again. The new moms and their babies wait the longest and move more slowly north, closer to coast – quite a show when you spot them. Especially when they spyhop, standing in water, tails down head up looking like they are taking a bow for the cheering crowds on shore. They are so close to shore in some places folks just sit on their tailgates or folding chairs with a glass of wine after work and watch without binoculars until it’s time to go home.
Whale watchers gather at prominent points and look for spouts. A whale will spout 3- 5 times then dive so you can see their backs and flukes. Sometimes they breach – leap out of the water. Imagine a 52 ton animal with a heart bigger than VW bug in flight! Why do they do it? No one knows but the best guess is they are jumping for joy.