DANA POINT Whale-watchers aboard the Manute’a got a one-of-a-kind view on a recent trip on the catamaran not far from the Dana Point Headlands.
Two gray whales migrating to the lagoons of Baja where many are known to mate, got a head-start on their courtship but were interrupted by a playful pod of 10 white-sided dolphins.
Passengers aboard the Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari watched the dolphins leap and surf in front of the two 30-ton animals.
The whales, seemingly amused by the attention from the dolphins, twirled around and swam the backstroke, said Dave Anderson, who has operated his whale-watch charter for 20 years out of Dana Point Harbor.
The action was caught by Domenic Biagini, a drone operator from La Jolla, who has been working on Anderson’s boats.
“We had spent some time with these two and then moved on to look for more gray whales,” Biagini said. “I had already put the drone away when I saw a pectoral fin come out of the water. Normally, when we see gray whales they are on a beeline to get to Mexico. When you see them on their side, it usually means one is enticing the other one to come over, like a flirt. It was spectacular. They were rolling over and spinning. There was a lot of energy going on there.”
Biagini, a college baseball player and literature major from Chicago, has been working for Anderson filming whales for about a year. Getting a drone license is his way to learn more about the magnificent mammals.
“The captains and crew get pretty used to seeing gray whales,” he said. “When they’re on a 6,000-mile, one-way journey, they are on a mission and you just see them come up for breaths. When you see something like this, it makes you realize that anything can happen out here.”
Thousands of gray whales are on their annual migration right now. Local whale-watch charters begin tracking gray whales Nov. 1.
This year, Anderson’s group spotted its first southbound gray whale Nov. 16. Since then they have sighted 49 gray whales, one was traveling northbound.
The whales travel from arctic waters near Alaska where they feed to the warm lagoons of Baja, Mexico, to mate and give birth.
During their approximate 12,000-mile round trip journey, gray whales face threats including orcas and entanglement in fishing gear.
Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who runs a gray whale migration count, part of the American Cetacean Society’s Los Angeles Chapter Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project, has counted 63 whales…