Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

How California Gray whales make love

We call it “seeing Pink Floyd.”

Dockside pelican supervises Legend’s debarcation.
Dockside pelican supervises Legend’s debarcation.

Dominic the crewman throws the hawser aboard.

“Clear!” he calls out.

The Legend is outward bound, whale watching, 20 souls aboard.

Fifteen minutes, a coffee, and a blueberry muffin later, I am climbing up to the bridge, where Captain Patrick Dorety heads us towards the harbor mouth. He’s not a scientist, but he has been observing whale behavior, almost on a daily basis during the season, for 13 years. So you could say he knows California Gray whales as well as anybody.

“Between 150-300 whales come past San Diego every day, relentlessly, regardless of the weather, from young juveniles doing their first trip by themselves, to single males — sometimes even a mother with an early-born calf.”

H&M Landing’s broad whale-watching boat, Legend.

He has even gotten to know one or two of the regulars. “One is named ‘Scarback.’ I personally first saw her in 1989. She was the target of a Russian whaling ship back in the late 1970s. The harpoon hit her, but instead of killing her, it just took out a chunk of her back, and she escaped and survived. And they still see Scarback to this day, down at the lagoons. I’ve known at least seven times that she’s been seen with newborn calves.”

Does he ever see whales making love?

“We actually do. The majority of the matings will happen down in the lagoons. There’s usually three whales involved. One whale will basically work as a table, and the other two are on top, and they kind of roll over. There’s cooperation. It’s actually a pretty funny sight. We call it ‘seeing Pink Floyd.’ The males pop their [penises] on the surface — a little bigger than us! — about three or four feet. The female’s cooperating. They’ll be rolling around, they’ll both pop up, then they’ll both go at it again. It’s obviously fun.”

Passengers, certain they have spotted whale.

But now, beyond the shelter of Point Loma, it is the ocean that is rolling around.

“It’s short and steep seas out here,” radios the Adventure Hornblower’s captain, “and I’ve got too many old people on the boat, so I’m coming back in. It’s not safe for my crowd. We already had an old lady roll across the deck.”

Legend is a wider boat, so Patrick decides to carry on out. But he broadcasts to the passengers. “Stay seated and hold on at all times.”

We are finally rewarded with the sight of a mother and baby. The baby is giving mini spouts. Patrick cuts his engine.

“We have to be very careful here. Typically, the newborn will be extremely curious, and come to us to play. So we stay further back. Because usually the mother will come and push the newborn away. Or, rarely, the mother could start getting hostile with us.”

This meeting is short, but it seems strangely intimate, an emotional interruption before mother and child go back to their lives, and we go back to ours.

Skipper, Patrick Dorety - 13 years up close with whales.

Back on shore, I call Dr. Dave Weller, a whale specialist in La Jolla. He tells me three things: “Gray Whale numbers are good. In 1967, we estimated their population at 6000. Today, 27,000. But they have had massive die-offs: one in 1999-2000, possibly 6000 dead, 20 percent of the population. Cause unknown. Good news is that in ten years, they have more than recovered.”

Whales escape her - On six whale watching expeditions Kathy Cormier has spotted zero whales.

And third?

“Climate change: in the last ten years, two California Gray Whales have been spotted, in the Atlantic.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Stuck between two cuisines

Sushi vs BBQ
Next Article

The Tobacconist: Stogie story

His job is to sell pleasure and desire, cigars “hand-rolled tenderly by beautiful women on their thighs.”
Dockside pelican supervises Legend’s debarcation.
Dockside pelican supervises Legend’s debarcation.

Dominic the crewman throws the hawser aboard.

“Clear!” he calls out.

The Legend is outward bound, whale watching, 20 souls aboard.

Fifteen minutes, a coffee, and a blueberry muffin later, I am climbing up to the bridge, where Captain Patrick Dorety heads us towards the harbor mouth. He’s not a scientist, but he has been observing whale behavior, almost on a daily basis during the season, for 13 years. So you could say he knows California Gray whales as well as anybody.

“Between 150-300 whales come past San Diego every day, relentlessly, regardless of the weather, from young juveniles doing their first trip by themselves, to single males — sometimes even a mother with an early-born calf.”

H&M Landing’s broad whale-watching boat, Legend.

He has even gotten to know one or two of the regulars. “One is named ‘Scarback.’ I personally first saw her in 1989. She was the target of a Russian whaling ship back in the late 1970s. The harpoon hit her, but instead of killing her, it just took out a chunk of her back, and she escaped and survived. And they still see Scarback to this day, down at the lagoons. I’ve known at least seven times that she’s been seen with newborn calves.”

Does he ever see whales making love?

“We actually do. The majority of the matings will happen down in the lagoons. There’s usually three whales involved. One whale will basically work as a table, and the other two are on top, and they kind of roll over. There’s cooperation. It’s actually a pretty funny sight. We call it ‘seeing Pink Floyd.’ The males pop their [penises] on the surface — a little bigger than us! — about three or four feet. The female’s cooperating. They’ll be rolling around, they’ll both pop up, then they’ll both go at it again. It’s obviously fun.”

Passengers, certain they have spotted whale.

But now, beyond the shelter of Point Loma, it is the ocean that is rolling around.

“It’s short and steep seas out here,” radios the Adventure Hornblower’s captain, “and I’ve got too many old people on the boat, so I’m coming back in. It’s not safe for my crowd. We already had an old lady roll across the deck.”

Legend is a wider boat, so Patrick decides to carry on out. But he broadcasts to the passengers. “Stay seated and hold on at all times.”

We are finally rewarded with the sight of a mother and baby. The baby is giving mini spouts. Patrick cuts his engine.

“We have to be very careful here. Typically, the newborn will be extremely curious, and come to us to play. So we stay further back. Because usually the mother will come and push the newborn away. Or, rarely, the mother could start getting hostile with us.”

This meeting is short, but it seems strangely intimate, an emotional interruption before mother and child go back to their lives, and we go back to ours.

Skipper, Patrick Dorety - 13 years up close with whales.

Back on shore, I call Dr. Dave Weller, a whale specialist in La Jolla. He tells me three things: “Gray Whale numbers are good. In 1967, we estimated their population at 6000. Today, 27,000. But they have had massive die-offs: one in 1999-2000, possibly 6000 dead, 20 percent of the population. Cause unknown. Good news is that in ten years, they have more than recovered.”

Whales escape her - On six whale watching expeditions Kathy Cormier has spotted zero whales.

And third?

“Climate change: in the last ten years, two California Gray Whales have been spotted, in the Atlantic.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Customer complaint chases bullying Starbucks barista from corona-crazed coffee collective

Star-BUCKS
Next Article

Praga: Italian at a Czech restaurant in Mexico

Not many pedestrians. No mariachis. And definitely no striped zebra-donkeys.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close