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PHOTO Caption: Guests aboard a Capt. Dave’s Whale Watching & Dolphin Safari trip snap photographs of a pod of gray whales off the south Orange County coast. Photo by Dale Frink/Dolphinsafari.com.
PHOTO Caption: Guests aboard a Capt. Dave’s Whale Watching & Dolphin Safari trip snap photographs of a pod of gray whales off the south Orange County coast. Photo by Dale Frink/Dolphinsafari.com.

Dana Point Times

Whale watchers in south Orange County saw migrating gray whales in record numbers throughout December, according to crewmembers of Capt. Dave’s Whale Watching & Dolphin Safari. In just one trip last month, Capt. Dave’s crew recorded seeing 10 gray whales.

“We have never seen this many whales in December,” said Capt. Dave Anderson in a press release. “Whale watching is incredible right now. We’ve had a perfect storm of great weather, gray whales and dolphins.”

On average, gray whales stretch 40 to 50 feet in length, and are not only among the world’s largest mammals but also make the longest annual migration of mammals. Gray whales travel between 10,000 and 12,000 miles each year from their feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean, mainly the Chukchi and Bering seas, to the southern lagoons of Baja California, Mexico where they mate and give birth to calves.

This year, gray whales began an early migration with sightings in November that have steadily increased, Anderson said. In December alone Capt. Dave’s excursions had 75 gray whale encounters. Last December only 21 sightings were logged, down from the 44 chronicled in December 2011.

The whales are often seen within a mile or two of the southern Orange County coastline as they are believed to use the Dana Point Headlands as a landmark. According to Capt. Dave’s, the American Cetacean Society has also noted an increase in gray whale sightings from last year.

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