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Even whales prefer to travel in the summer months, and their mass migrations attract larger crowds of human spectators across the globe. From humpbacks to minkes and grays to sperm whales, there's plenty of variety to these giant mammals and plenty more places to spot them in their natural habitat.
In general, right now is the season most whales are on the move, heading to cooler waters to grab a good feed until the temps start to drop again, at which time they head back to warmer water. In the Northern Hemisphere, we're lucky that whale watching season also corresponds with the start of summer travels, but the Southern Hemisphere's winter season might make for a chilly boat ride out to the say "hi" to the gentle giants.
TV Travel / And Idiot Abroad / Comedy Travel / Alaska Travel / Whales / Animals / Reality TV Travel / → All Tags
Our favorite Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington, crossed whale watching in Alaska off the bucket list in this week's episode.
As usual, Ricky and Steve planned a few detours for Karl, including a hike through Heather Pass in the Arctic Circle. Karl was lead to a snowy cabin by his guide, Marty, who was incredibly patient considering Karl moved even slower than usual on his skis as he dragged along a sled that kept getting tangled. At one point Marty reassured Karl that it was all down hill from here, to which Karl replied, "since I got off the plane it's been down hill."
Today, Big Miracle opens in theaters across the country and the timing couldn't be better with Alaska's whale-watching season right around the corner.
The film, starring Drew Barrymore, is based on the real-life rescue of several gray whales near Barrow, Alaska in 1988. Barrymore plays a Greenpeace volunteer who, along with her reporter ex-boyfriend (John Krasinski), convinces rival world superpowers to come together and help save the whales.
Whale watchers, grab your binoculars. As whale watching winds down on the West Coast, whales are being spotted on the East Coast.
On the west coast: San Diego's whale-watching season usually ends in the first week of April, but this year it's been briefly extended. For one last chance at whale spotting, San Diego Harbor Excursion will offer tours through April 11 and Hornblower will hit the water with its own cruises through April 18.
But the best spotting is on the east coast, after the jump
When autumn rolls around, tourists desert the sandy shores of California. What they don't realize is that when beach season ends, whale-watching season begins. The best time to see whales in Cali is December through March, when about 20,000 gray whales, up to 50 feet long and 45 tons each, swim 6,000 miles south from Alaskan waters along California's coastline to breeding waters in Baja. Groups of whales stay close to the shoreline to avoid predators, logging 70 to 80 miles daily.
You can whale watch up and down the coast and California State Parks are some of the best places to shout, "Thar she blows!" Humboldt Lagoons State Park, Patrick's Point State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County are all good whale-watching locations. MacKerricher State Park, three miles north of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, is another place to spot 'em. Plan your expedition during the Mendocino and Fort Bragg Whale Festivals, March 6 to 7 and March 20 to 21, respectively, so that you can partake in guided whale walks, whale boat tours, chowder tastings and art exhibits.
More perfect whale-watching locations after the jump.
The coast of Western Australia is getting busy: the whale watching season is underway and early sightings suggest that not only has the season started early, but there are more whales than there've been in decades.
Commercial whaling in Western Australia finished up in 1963 with just 500 humpback whales left in the waters, but estimates now put the number of whales that will swim the 8,000 miles from Antarctica to the north of the state at around 17,000. Good work, whales!
Whale watching trips run all up and down the coast and from the capital Perth, too – grab a two-hour trip from Hillarys Boat Harbour for A$62 ($50), or head south to Albany for three-hour cruises that let you come on board again in the unlikely event of no whales showing up.
The only thing that seems to be growing faster than the whale population is the population of whale-watchers. Tourism peeps in West Oz say tourist numbers are growing by 15% every year so you need to hurry to avoid the crowds.
Twitter / Museums / WTF News / Whales / → All Tags
It's toplined an acclaimed independent movie and inspired generations of kids on field trips. But the American Museum of Natural History's ocean centerpiece is boldly going where no blue whale has gone before: On Twitter! Finally, a whale that doesn't bring up the dreaded "Twitter is overloaded" Fail Whale.
NatHistoryWhale seems well versed in international environmental policy and trends in marine biology, but the 21,000-pound mammal isn't above a bit of fun. It's a bit of a mystery who is close enough to the magnificent whale to be able to spot sibling shenanigans and science experiments outside its eyeline. Plus, it listens to Phish -- of course. Now that's way more adorable than Ashton Kutcher.
However, we can't help but wonder: is Twitter now out of control? Celebrities, tourism boards, even our parents and now iconic museum centerpieces? Discuss.
Are you tweeting up a storm? Don't forget to follow us too.