Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Mega Mammals, in Oxnard

The week after Christmas means an array of flukes are on approach.

WHAT SORT OF WHALE BUFF... are you, would you say? Are you the sort of on-deck water-watcher who stays absolutely still, and silent, while scanning the horizon for the unmistakable mist of blow? Or the tip of a fluke? Or, goodness, a full-on breach? Or are you on the chattier side as you watch for the giant mammals? Do you keep a running conversation going with your BWWFF (best whale-watching friend forever)? Are you two discussing baleen and plankton and migration patterns and lagoons and calves while you keep half a peeper trained on the surface of the ocean? There's no one right path to loving a day out on a boat, and most whale-watching participants probably fall somewhere in the middle of "totally silent" to "a font of whale trivia." The important thing is getting on that whale-watching boat, and if you do, that likely means it must finally be the season for looking for our mammalian ocean friends, which happens just after Christmas in...

OXNARD: That's right, as humans are stowing the ribbons and boxes and bows, the largest animals on the planet are busily migrating. And, in many cases, those swim-bys are happening notably close to our lovely shores. Dec. 26 is the annual kick-off — er, fluke-off — of whale-watching season in the Oxnard area, which wraps around the middle of April. Want to hop on an Island Packers adventure, just to see how whale-y things might get? A ticket is $38 for an adult, and you'll be on the boat for about 3.5 hours. So, yeah, you'll see some sweet seabirds, and maybe some seals, and, flippers crossed, a Pacific Gray Whale or two ("an estimated 20,000 to 25,000" Pacific Grays pass through the Santa Barbara Channel each year on their way to Mexico and back north). Also, Channel Islands Sportsfishing Center is doing the whole marvelous whale-look-out thing beginning on the 26th, too, with half-day excursions on tap.

WE LANDLUBBERS... may wait for Jan. 1 to start our projects and resolutions, but not our super-smart, super-efficient whale pals; they're ready to migrate in the way that their forewhales did for eons, and they don't even need one of our human calendars to tell them whether it is the start of the new year or not. So, Dec. 26 it is, as it is every year, and hurrah to that.

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