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Dolphin Watching Trip [pictures]

Monday, January 07, 2013

We signed up for a Whale Watching trip the day after we went to Safari Park but since we didn't see any 'whales,' I've decided to call it a 'Dolphin Watching' trip instead! It was a really nice day - we were afraid it would be really cold but it ended up being somewhat warm instead! My husband, surrogate 'daughter' and 'granddaughter' went on this trip with me - sort-of a family Christmas Present and a way to have a fun adventure together. We started out in Newport Harbor on the Balboa Peninsula side. You might not be able to see it well in this picture but we had a clear view of the Saddleback Mountains in the distance as we left the dock.

As I said, we thought it might get a little cold so my daughter and granddaughter dressed as if we were heading to the South Pole.

We enjoyed the 'cruise' through the harbor, looking at all the boats anchored there - some people live on their boats but most of these just sit in the harbor unused except for a few days a year - must be nice to have all that $$!!!

Of course, not everything in the harbor is a luxury yacht - here's a boat with, um, some 'character'

We stationed ourselves on the upper deck at the very back of the boat so we enjoyed watching the boat's wake as we went through the harbor.

We passed the beach where we sat when we watched the boat parade a few days earlier. We actually sat at the base of the palm tree in the middle of the picture, in case you were wondering

And if you read my Boat Parade blogs, you might remember that one of the houses imported some snow for people to enjoy - this is the house and the little park next to it where the snow was dumped. It's often called the 'King Gillette Mansion' because it was built by the son of the guy who invented safety razors but he actually never moved into the place. It was owned by a number of people in the interim, including a 'famous' guitar player named Dick Dale - King of the Surfing Fender-Benders' - but he defaulted on the mortgage and the house was foreclosed, like many other homes of all price brackets. Anyway, a bit of local history there to go along with my babbling blogs.

This is the jetty and beach where mydogs love to play - it's also called The Wedge because of the jetty and the surfers love it because it gets more wave action than many other local beaches.

Just as we were leaving the jetty area, we were passed by a cute little tug boat

that was pulling a barge - I'm not positive but I think it goes out into the ocean to get fishing bait because they refer to it as 'The Bait Barge' - at any rate, there are a lot of fishing boats that go out from this harbor and they do sell fresh bait in a few places.

There's a buoy just outside the jetty that is a favorite spot for sea lions - sometimes you can see them jumping up and landing on another sea lion, who ends up sliding into the water - occasionally, there's a fight over 'turf' on this buoy

The captain had warned us that they had not seen ANYTHING the day before - not whales, dolphins or anything else of interest - because of the big storm we had for a few days before that. The rain and wind churns up the water so it gets murky and hard to see anything at all. He told us they have 'spotters' all over the place and get reports from fishing boats, harbor residents going out on their boats, the coast guard and even some of the planes that fly over the water - he was hoping we could find some whales if we went south a little ways so we got a great 'tour' of the Newport Coastline as we went on our search.

The captain spotted some 'action' and we went over to check it out, hoping it would be whales because it was in an area where he had seen whales many times before. It turned out to be dolphins, which are not at all unusual in this area. In fact, this type of dolphin is called a 'Common Dolphin' - they were great entertainment, however, and we stayed around watching them jumping, swimming and playing around the boat.

In addition to the Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriff's Dept also patrols the coastline and harbor. They passed us a few times going back and forth on their patrol while we were out on the ocean. One of the things they look for is to be sure the boats stay the required distance and use proper safety measures when around whales - the dolphins are very friendly animals, however, and seem to really ENJOY coming up close to the boat. Apparently some of the boats release food, called 'chum,' into the water to bring them closer, which is against the law - so the sheriff made sure they got a good look to ensure we weren't doing anything like that.

We passed a few 'kelp islands' - that is, clumps of sea weed floating on the water. This one had a bird standing and walking around on it, which I thought was pretty funny!

My 'granddaughter' Jacqueline really enjoyed watching the dolphins. She's almost 9 yrs old [how fast they grow!!] and I've wanted to take her on this type of trip for awhile but she was actually afraid of boats for a long time - not sure why because she had never been on one but maybe it was a movie or TV scene that frightened her. I know I am still uneasy around spiders after watching a scary movie about giant spiders trying to eat people when I was a kid - fortunately, she got over that fear last year when her dad took the family to Catalina for the summer so I was glad to see she enjoyed being on the boat so much!

We had another nice encounter with some bottlenose dolphins, which are a lot larger and not as frequently seen as the 'common dolphins' - this group had about 4 or 5 of them playing together, jumping up and then diving under. They were so quick, I had trouble getting a good picture because by the time I'd press the button and the camera would click, they'd be back under the water. We had a lot of fun watching them, however.

Unfortunately, after about an hour and a half on the ocean, it was time to head back to the harbor without seeing any whales. We do have a 50% coupon for a return trip and I got a ticket for a free trip because I got a CD of a documentary the captain made so we WILL go back one of these days. We did spend a couple of minutes on the way back into the harbor to watch the sea lions on that buoy - but we started to leave when another boat came up to the buoy and got really close to it to look at the sea lions. Right about that time, the sheriff's boat zoomed right over to talk with the people - as we entered the harbor and looked back, it really seemed like whoever was steering that boat was getting a citation. Too bad but the sea lions are nasty creatures who could have caused problems for them and those who are familiar with the harbor avoid getting near the sea lions because they can jump up onto the boat and 'take over' - the boat that was getting too close had a couple of kids and a small dog as well as a couple of adults all hanging over the rail as if they wanted to 'pet' these nasty creatures so they were obviously either not aware of the problem or took a silly chance. At any rate, this was our parting shot before we re-entered the harbor area.

Overall, it was a really nice way to end the year's Christmas holiday celebration and I'm eager to go out on another 'whale watching' trip before too long!
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