Time to Spout Off

Whales are starting to show. Ready, marine mavens?

Animals are migrating near where people live all the time, but there's something about the grey whales that cruise by Southern California that gets mammal-loving mammals (read: humans) stirred up and out on the boats despite the wintry temps.

While several companies stay busy throughout the December-April grey whale window -- that's the time when the gorgeous giants are turning back to their summering spots up north -- Dana Point and Newport Beach positively hum with enthusiasts laden with binoculars, cameras and oodles of hope.

Why hope? Well, it isn't guaranteed that the whales will be out during a particular expedition. We've never figured out why they don't outfit these wonders of the ocean with underwater cell phones or laptops, but, until they do, whale groupies will just have to plan on getting lucky during a whale-watching voyage.

Even if the whales act all shy and elusive, which they often do, there's plenty of scenery to take in, including unbelievable views of the coast, the occasional bark-y seal, shore-loving birds and sun-glint-y waves.

Several companies around SoCal run rides out to sea in the busy winter months. Check out Newport Landing Whale Watching, Dana Point Sportsfishing & Whale Watching, and Dolphin & Whale Safari in Dana Point and find your ideal day cruise.

And, fun: Dana Point Sportsfishing and Whale Watching just reported its first whale sighting on December 29, 2009. Oh, it's on.

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