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Tips for Whale Watching Ashore

Whale Watching Tips When You're Ashore

We have some great tips for when you're whale watching from ashore, but I'm afraid we can't promise you a sight like this - sometimes you just get lucky as Julie Blaustein did in the photo above.

But before we get to our tips specific to when you're doing your whale watching from ashore, a quick review of our general tips for whale watching.

For the best possible whale watching experience, follow these whale watching tips:

  • Plan your trip for peak whale watching season
  • Pick a spot that's known for its whale watching
  • Choose a calm, clear day
  • Be patient
  • And things to bring along:
       A good pair of binoculars;
       A camera or video cam with a decent zoom lens;
       Sun screen and sun glasses;
       Warm clothes, in case it turns nippy;
       A picnic lunch, snacks, and something to drink

Commercial whale watching boats are generally skippered by experienced seamen and often carry a wildlife expert who will share information with you about what to look for and what exactly you're seeing when you find something.

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Whale Watching Tips When Watching from Shore

In addition to the tips above, if you're whale watching from ashore you'll also want to keep the following in mind:

  • Find a prominent headland that juts out to sea and that's higher than sea level

    The closer to deep water you are, the closer the whales will be to you!
  • Keep an eye on the ocean and stay safe

In spite of its name - which means peaceful - the Pacific Ocean can be a dangerous place and will take you by surprise if you're not paying attention.

Please read and follow Discover Northern California's tips for staying safe near the ocean at Your Beach Safety.

How to whale watch, and what to look for: when you're whale watching, this is how to go about it and what you'll be looking for...

  • Scan the surface of the water rather than looking down into it
  • Look for a blow, or spout (as seen above) - when the whale surfaces after a dive, he'll blow the air out through his blow hole, creating a misty vapor jet
  • Also look for whale footprints, especially if you're on a high promontory - you may be able to spot the glassy mark a whale makes on the surface of the ocean, almost like an oil slick (see photo at Tips for Whale Watching)

Among the species of whale you might spot from shore are the blue whale, humpback whale, and gray whale.

For more tips and whale watching information, click on any of the links below:

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