Summer Family Fun: Giant Blue Whales Seen on Newport Whale Watching Tours

Photo credit: Christine Schultz

Newport Landing/Davey’s Locker whale watching tours have seen incredible numbers of giant blue whales off the coast of Newport Beach.  The cruises head out a couple times a day, and there have been blue whale sightings on each trip since May 29th.

May through November is known for blue whale sightings due to warmer waters and Newport has been incredibly lucky to be spotting so many of these amazing creatures during their tours.  Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet and can reach up to 80-100 feet long and weigh as much as 441,000 pounds.

Photo courtesty of Newport Landing.

Davey’s Locker is located at the Balboa Fun Zone just across from Balboa Island. As soon as the two hour tour started, we spotted herons, pelicans, and even a single dolphin bobbing in between parked boats looking for thrown out fish. Once we past the seawall, a group os sea lions napped together on a floating bell tower. Their bodies overlapped creating a wreath of blubber, while a few sea lion heads bobbed up and down in the water looking for a place to jump up and squeeze their way in with the others.

After only 10 minutes out on the open ocean, a pod of dolphins took interest in us and used the wakes from the boat to surf along the front and side.  An expert naturalist walking around the stern of the boat told us that you only see 20% of the dolphins on the surface, the other 80% are under, which meant there were hundreds of dolphins jetting through the waters unseen by the eye.

As soon as the dolphins joined the journey with us, a cloud of water vapor shot out from the distance indicating a whale sighting.  Our Captain, Harry Hewitt, headed toward the spouting, excited to get out to see the blue whale. He expressed over the intercom that the sightings lately have been some of the best he had ever seen.  As we approached the spouting, another blow broke through the water at our 3:00 position, then another at 11:00 and then another at 5:00.  The waters of Newport were teeming with blue whales and we were right in the middle.

In our two hour trip we saw over 10 giant blue whales, breaking the surface, their large backs gliding out of the top of the water.  Right before a whale is about to take a deep dive to feed (about 10,000 feet) it flukes, which means it arches its back and its tail jets out of the water so that it can descend down.  Seeing the tail lift out of the water was a moment all of us on board waited for, and as soon as it happened it caused a roar of applause and cheers from the bottom and top levels of the boat.

Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Close to the end of our trip a blue whale mother and her calf came up to the boat.  Captain Hewitt set the vessel in neutral and idled as we watched. The calf was so curious and took its time circling right next to the boat about four to five times over the course of half an hour, popping up right in front of us, and startling us with its blow. 

It was so close you could see its face and fins under the water, the light reflecting off the light gray and white of its body. Baby blue whales are born at 23 feet long and grow at 200 lbs a day while drinking their mother’s milk. Captain Hewitt explained that the milk is so thick and rich in fat that it looks like cottage cheese. The mother releases it into the water, and the calf drinks it up through its baleen for the first 8 months of its life. 

The calf coming that close to the boat was a rare sighting, one that had our captain yelping with excitement. “This is the first time I’ve seen a blue whale this close to our boat,” Hewitt exclaimed. “This trip has got to be in my top three cruises of my career. A 1 in 1000 trip!”  We finally headed back to the dock, still in awe of everything we experienced and saw. It was a once in a lifetime trip, and you can experience it too while the blue whales are still off the coast feeding on krill.

Use discount code “INSTA50” which applies to the standard cruise that we took, and book your tour here.  For a video of our adventure and close encounters with the largest living creatures, click here!