Animals are migrating near where people live all the time, but there's something about the gray 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 November-April whale window -- that's the time when the gorgeous giants are turning back to their summering spots up north -- Dana Point positively hums 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.
While we'd love to see a whale leaping into the air (a la "Free Willy") while he shoots water out his blowhole -- there's even a rainbow overhead in this particular fantasy -- we'd be pleased to just spot a shimmery back for a brief second out in the distance. Or even a wave ripple with a hint of something whale-y underneath. Do the gray whales know the total superstars they are? How much their autographs would sell for online? We so love all their work. Totally huge, huge fans. Major.