Sea lions are surging into Monterey Bay, greedily enjoy the feast of a lifetime. Humpback whales are fattening on the same prey. If you’ve never had the joy and excitement of a close encounter with a 20-ton, 45 foot long sea creature, now’s your chance. This summer’s epic blooms of anchovies attract whales and sea lions in the mouth of Moss Landing Harbor in numbers so great it’s a guaranteed treat for all visitors.
My best encounter was off an island near Juneau in 2012. Five humpbacks swam gently to our kayaks and surfaced. Their energy felt like the attention you get from a dog, but about twenty times more powerful. They are aware.
Going back to the beginning of recorded written history, sea watchers have noted the spiritually sublime feeling of being close to dolphins and whales, and their interest in socializing or communicating with humans. In the 21st century, YouTube is replete with videos of whale close encounters, and their reactions when humans help disentangle them from nets or assist them in some way. If you’re curious in the topic, I highly recommend Alexandra Morton’s classic book “Listening to Whales.” One of the first and foremost orca researchers, Morton’s stories of her experiences will change your perceptions of whales.
Whale watching means more than anxiously watching for the telltale spouts of the mammals. A close encounter means a chance to be close to one of the largest brains on the planet, an animal that can live upwards of 150 years. Friends know that during our 2004 honeymoon, my wife “meditated to bring the whales to us” while on a boat near Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. 20 minutes later a big mature humpback crossed our bow with a full breach – and then seven more. I’m a believer.
If time and schedule allow, I highly recommend booking a half-day summer whale watching trip from Moss Landing on California’s Monterey Bay. Moss Landing is 20 miles north of the town of Monterey, and where the whales are feeding. We ride with Sanctuary Cruises, a vegetable oil-powered boat with a biologist on board. It’s just $50 and they’ll take good care of you. Book online at SanctuaryCruies.com.