Most Incredible Humpback Whale Encounter

On Sunday November 3rd, I went out on an all-day trip to explore the waters surrounding Catalina Island aboard Pacific Offshore Expeditions. I had done an all-day trip with them the week before and had incredible sightings with a tight group of humpback whales. At the time, I didn't think the encounter we had could be topped but we were in for quite the surprise!

After departing from the Newport harbor, we came across a pod of offshore bottlenose dolphins, and some scattered pods of common dolphin. As we headed up the coast towards the Santa Monica bay, I spotted a few blows in the distance. After alerting the captain, we headed in that direction to investigate, eventually sighting two humpback whales surfacing calmly. Nothing out of the ordinary for a humpback sighting for the first few minutes. And then the two whales headed straight for the boat, to the delight of everyone on board!

Humpback Whale Approaches Boat

The sound of their powerful blows, their gentle and articulate way of swimming so close to the boat, the inquisitive look in their eyes and even the strong smell of their breath was beyond anything I could have imagined happening.

Humpback Whale eye

The two whales swam around the boat, under the boat and curiously interacted with the people on board for over an hour! At times, they were so close, we could have easily reached out and touched them.

Humpback whale spyhop on pacific offshore expeditions

This gave the opportunity for everyone on board to not only get incredible photos and videos, but even take whale selfies!

Whale selfie

The whole encounter just felt like a dream. It was just the handful of people on our boat, the whales and no one else. The most astonishing part of it all is that the whales chose to do it. As all wildlife encounters should be, the whales determined how long the encounter lasted and how close they got. No two whale watching trips are ever the same, and on this day we just happened to be incredibly lucky.

 This encounter has left me feeling incredibly blessed and inspired. A few days after the experience I couldn't help but try to depict them in ink:

humpback whales illustration

 It has also inspired me to get back to painting, with a new ideas for mixed media painting blossoming in my mind!

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