Welcome back to the ‘The American Dream’ blogpost series. Today, I went whale watching in Santa Cruz. Saying that this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life really isn’t over exaggerated. Seeing these enormous animals living their life in the wild pacific ocean really was an experience to remember forever!
We went to the Santa Cruz Harbor around noon and waited in line to get on the boat. While we stood there in the cold sea wind, all of a sudden a very enthusiastic dude jumped off the boat and gave us some quick instructions/information about the adventure ahead of us. He was a natural scientist and passionately told us everything he knew about the fascinating life in the sea.
A bit later, we got on the boat and installed ourselves: let’s go! I soon discovered it freezing out there on the ocean. I already wore a thick sweater and a coat but felt the need to layer a couple of more clothing items on top. This was so strange compared to the hot weather we experienced during our trip. The first interesting sight we passed, was a buoy with a lot of sea lions on it that were happily greeting us from a distance: I was so excited!
Once we got further away from the coast, people started to scream every once in a while because they (thought they) saw a whale. We beforehand made the agreement that we would let the other passengers on the boat know when we saw something interesting so everybody would have the chance to see amazing sea creatures. At first, I really didn’t know what to look for. Apparently you have to look at the horizon and search for water being sprayed in the air. The first 15 minutes in, I thought I had spotted a shark since I saw a black triangular shape sticking out of the water. I told the experts about my finding, but sadly they said that it was just one of the heaviest known bony fish alive: a sunfish. Well, I suppose that’s cool as well!
People started to yell more often, everybody was quickly jumping/running from one side of the boat to the other to find out what the others had seen, while trying not to lose their balance during the bumpy ride.
A little later, we found the perfect area at which there were a lot of whales. We saw a lot of birds flying above certain pieces of water which apparently indicates that there is a lot of food in the water and thus the chance that there will be a whale in that area is very large as well.
And there it was: the first, large spray right in front of the boat. Everybody saw it, everybody was impressed: we found them! The next couple of hours we were lucky enough to see massive whales diving into the deep water and lifting their huge tails above the surface. One time two whales even jumped right in front of the boat simultaneously due to which we could see their head, which is quite unique. We got to enjoy the playful animals for quite a bit longer. It was impressive to see them in action and see so many of them. At a certain point we were almost unable to keep track of the amount of sprays into the air. The experts told us that we had seen about 30 (!!!) whales alongside a couple of dolphins.
We then moved closer towards the Monterey Bay and saw some great white sharks. At first it was pretty hard to spot them, because sharks usually don’t stick out the fin on their backs since this costs them to much energy. It is the most efficient for them to swim just below the surface of the water (quite a cool fact I think!). Eventually we spotted a couple of juvenile great white sharks. Much closer to the shore than I expected… By the way, great white sharksonly have a white belly 🙂 .
After a good 3,5 hours we went back to Santa Cruz.
As I said, this was such an incredible experience. I beforehand didn’t really know what to expect and therefore wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this activity, but I’m so happy I did it! I definitely recommend you to book a whale watching tour in this area, just be sure to book your tickets in advance. Chances of you seeing these animals really are super high!
Thank you so much for reading this blog, see you in the next one! On to San Fran!
Lots of love,