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Birch Aquarium and Whale Watching

January 3, 2013 | By | Reply More


San Diegans enjoy watching the annual migration of gray whales off our coast. Credit: Birch Aquarum at Scripps.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium showcases fish and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico.

My family and I particularly enjoy the touch pools on Tide Pool Plaza, where sea stars and sea urchins can be handled, and the fascinating Hall of Fishes, where a wide range of sea creatures live in recreated habitats.

In addition to this facility, Birch Aquarium also hosts interactive learning opportunities in La Jolla and other areas of San Diego. Of these, their whale watching excursions are the most popular.

Gray whales migrate from the Bering Sea to their breeding grounds in Baja California Photo credit: Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

December 26 marked the start of Birch Aquarium’s 13th season of whale watching. Aquarium naturalists and volunteers will be out on the open ocean twice a day through April 14, searching for whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds and a variety of other marine animals.

Approximately 20,000 gray whales pass San Diego on their annual 10,000-mile round-trip journey from the Bering Sea to their breeding grounds in the lagoons of Baja California – the longest mammal migration in the world.

San Diegans are quite lucky to witness this parade of whales every winter. Last year, Birch passengers and naturalists observed gray whale mating behavior, females traveling with calves, breaching (leaping with much of the body out of the water) and spyhopping (raising the head above water to peek around).

At the moment, we are only a week into the season, but Birch whale watchers have already seen 45 southbound gray whales, hundreds of acrobatic common dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and beautiful Risso’s dolphins breaching among the swells.

The biggest thrill to date: two cow/calf pairs surfacing near the boat and another pair of juveniles breaching!

Tip: Dress in layers and don’t forget your camera.

Whale watchers often see hundreds of acrobatic common dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and beautiful Risso’s dolphins breaching among the swells. Photo credit: Birch Aquarium at Scripps.


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Category: Kid-friendly LJ, whale watching, Wildlife

About the Author ()

I live in La Jolla and I'm a travel writer, so in addition to enjoying my home town's great weather, beautiful surroundings, and range of cultural and recreational options, I also see La Jolla - and the rest of San Diego - as a travel destination. And what I see sometimes drives me batty. People vacation in La Jolla, but don't take advantage of everything our community offers, so I decided to start this blog and provide insider advice for out-of-towners. Hey. I figure if I can write insider tips about exotic destinations on Authentic Luxury Travel, I ought to be able to lead readers off the beaten path that starts just outside my front door. In the process, I'm having fun revisiting my favorite places and discovering some new ones. Travel writers are naturally snoopy, and this blog is my excuse to have a good ol' sticky beak around my home town. I hope you find it helpful. If you are coming to La Jolla or another area of San Diego and would like my help in planning your trip, please read "Need Help Planning Your Trip" and then email me at ehansen298@aol.com. Elizabeth Hansen

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