Humpback Whale Sighting in Southern California

The calm ocean was hiding a unique visitor underneath the surface on January 23, 2013.  Captain Joe has seen blue, finback, minke, grey, and pilot whales off the Southern California coast over his 40-plus year career.  He has even seen orcas as they swim alongside the Sea Star.  When we took Carlsbad High School’s CP Marine Biology class out for an Ocean Classroom, everyone was surprised by the creature swimming next to the boat.

A large Humpback whale stunned the entire Sea Star crew and students when it swam up to the boat.  The dark skin on top of the whale greatly contrasted with the white pectoral fins on the side of its body and beneath its tail fluke.  The students viewed the whale several times at the surface as it expelled air from its lungs.  Captain Joe narrated from the wheelhouse and Deckhand Kane used the GoPro Hero 2 to capture the entire event.

Jared Cohn, a student photographer and contributor to theLancerLink, photographed the whale several times.  His photos can be viewed below.

Humpback FlukeHumpback Fluke 2

Our humpback whale put on a show for 25 minutes.  It fluked three different times and demonstrated the use of its pectoral fins up close to the boat.  In the video below, the humpback whale can be seen giving our students the performance of a lifetime.


Captain Joe and the Sea Star love sharing their passion for the ocean with students and adults alike.  Our Ocean Classroom program continues to take out over 1,000 students each year.  We emphasize conservation, sustainability, and being aware of the animals we share the ocean with.  Recently in the news, the California Coastal Commission is deciding what action to take regarding the U.S. Navy’s use of underwater explosives off the Southern California coast.  The Coastal Commission will try to suggest policies protecting the wildlife, but the Navy could ignore these suggestions.  Over the next five years, the Navy will kill 130 marine mammals and permanently deafen 1,600 which will cause major disruptions in feeding, breeding, and migratory habits.  Michael Jasny’s full San Diego Union-Tribune article on the subject can be found here….

As we move forward, the Sea Star and her crew will continue to share these wonderful experiences, like viewing the rare humpback, with students and adults.