Humpback whales are migrating through Southern California waters and the more fortunate observers are enjoying extremely close encounters.
The accompanying footage, showing a humpback whale using its flukes to fling water onto tourists, was captured by Capt. Delaney Trowbridge.
Trowbridge, who works for Pacific Offshore Expeditions and Newport Coastal Adventures, described Friday’s encounter via Facebook:
“I had one of the best humpback encounters of my career yesterday! A pair of humpback whales curiously investigated and played with our boat for nearly 3 HOURS.
“They were pushing the boat around, making crazy vocalizations, and spyhopping a bunch. I’ve never experienced a ‘mugging’ as intense as this one before!”
Mugging behavior involves whales swimming next to boats as if to inspect their occupants. Spyhopping is a technique used by whales to check out their above-surface surroundings.
Humpback whales are famous for these types of “friendly” behavior.
Trowbridge continued: “An encounter like this cannot be forced. The whales approached us, not the other way around. Follow local viewing distance guidelines when watching whales and remain in neutral if approached.”
The California population of humpback whales migrates to calving and mating areas of Mexico during the fall and early winter. This appears to be prime time to observe the mammals off Southern California.