Having read Moby Dick in my schooldays and seen whales only on TV, I was like an excited schoolkid on the day we headed whale-watching. With my in-laws here on their maiden US visit, hubby and me had chalked out a long list of to-do's and the first item on our checklist was whale-watching. The giants of the aquatic world travel each year from the icy cold Alaska to the warm Californian waters during the winter on a familial journey. The females in the herd give birth to their calves and return with new-borns after they grow strong to their homeland in spring. San Diego is located in the migratory path thus offering us a chance to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants. We were told that the best time for this would be mid January to late February but the whale-watching season is from December to April.
So there we were with the Sun shining bright on on a fine Saturday morning ready to board the aptly named cruise boat "Adventure Hornblower". Ours was a morning cruise and at 9am we were waiting in a long queue ready for a taste of the ocean. The cruise departed at 9.30am and soon we could feel the cool breeze from the Pacific while we sat on the deck soaking ourselves in the sun and the spectacular view of the city skyline behind us and the cool blue ocean all around us. It was time for some marine-lingo. Starboard meant the right side and port referred to the left side as we sailed forward. The captain was pointing out key landmarks as we left the dock and entered the ocean waters. Most of them were military establishments, so we saw the hangar that housed tens of hornet jets.
First up we saw lots of floating pillars that were bobbing up and down in the ocean. The captain as if answering our doubts announced that these were put up there for the convenience of sea-lions. Sure enough we spotted many groups of sea-lions getting their daily dose of vitamin-D atop these structures.
Then we saw groups or should I say schools of tiny dolphins swimming alongside our boat. Now most of the passengers were excited about this sighting while the captain calmly announced that these were common dolphins and there were hordes of them out there and they could easily out-swim our cruise-boat at her top speed.
As we went farther from the land and into the ocean, the captain and his crew asked us to join them in trying to spot a whale. Now there were hundreds of eyes eager to be the ones to sight the giant mammal first. And we all rushed to the right side I mean the starboard when the captain shouted "to your 3'o-clock". Sure enough there it was in a distance, a huge shiny black body. We had spotted a fin-whale, the pic we managed to click does not do full justice to the mammoth marine mammal, but the whole experience was breathtaking. The captain first spotted the whale by observing its spout, and then assuming that it will linger in the neighborhood for a while, our boat decided to do the same. And so after waiting for nearly 20 minutes we all got to see this whale surface and spout before disappearing into the ocean.
Thereafter it was time for us to head back to the dock with the hope of sighting some more magnificent marine life. On our way back we saw plenty of dolphins that kept diving around playfully and a couple of birds helping themselves to fresh lunch. As we neared the dock, we saw some more sea-lions grunting out their goodbyes. What we saw next was an active submarine of the US Navy. The captain of our boat radioed the submarine and conveyed his appreciation for their dedication and the work in safeguarding the interests of the nation.