Blue Whales, Ahoy: It’s That Time of Year

Feel the deep awe upon seeing the largest animals on earth.

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GOOGLE AGOG: The suggestions that pop up after the one- or two-word entry you make in the Google search bar are typically telling, as anyone knows who has ever searched for anything, ever. You don't always know what you'll get, but type in "blue whale" and you can pretty much guess that the words "largest" or "biggest" or "hugest" will immediately follow. No shocker here, really; the blue whale happens to be the largest animal on earth. That Google searchers want to know if the blue whale is "larger than a dinosaur" or "bigger than a whale shark" drills down a bit on the topic, but there is another way to get a sense of this mammoth animal's mammoth size: See one in the wild.

GIANTS OF THE DEEP: That can be tricky to predict -- it isn't as if you can sign up for an alert, to let you know when a blue whale is near Avalon or Ventura or Dana Point -- but heading out on a boat during blue whale season means you have a chance to see all of that behemoth, blowhole-y beauty in dynamic action. As far as measuring, with your own eyes, a blue whale's enormity? Well, unless you see one fully jump out of the drink -- something the movies make us think happens quite often -- you can't know. But you should get a good sense of the blue whale's size if you happen to see any part of it play peekaboo above the waterline.

SATURDAY, JUNE 27: That's when Hornblower Cruises in San Diego officially opens its blue whale-watching season, while Island Packers out of Ventura/Oxnard kicked off the whale-watchery on June 6. Even if a pod of magnificent blues happen to not pull up alongside your boat on the day you go out, you just might see some dolphins or barky mammals. And you'll definitely see a flocks of seabirds (so pretty on a beach but sublime over the ocean). Even though it is summer, or nearly, layer up for your cruise out, and keep an ear open; sometimes your fellow passengers have a keener eye to blowholes and flukes. Should you keep your camera at the ready? That's up to you, of course, but be sure to take a moment to look at the planet's largest living creature in person, and not through a screen.

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