It appears as though the world's largest creatures are finally settling in for the summer feeding season off Southern California.
Blue whales, which can measure 100 feet and weigh as much as 150 tons, have been spotted for two days in a row off Orange County and on Wednesday they were also spotted off Long Beach.
"It makes everybody in a good mood, that's for sure," said Capt. Larry Hartman of the Ocean Explorer out of Newport Landing.
Hartman's passengers saw "at least" five blue whales during Wednesday's 1 p.m. trip. On the morning run they saw two blue whales and a humpback whale calf that looked like a newborn, although its mother was not in sight.
Capt. Corey Hall of the Ocean Adventure out of Dana Wharf Whale Watching said his passengers enjoyed sightings of six blue whales during the 10 a.m. excursion, and two blue whales and a fin whale on the noon voyage.
Among the blue whales seen during the morning run were a mother and calf.
Hall said the whales were feeding part of the time and traveling part of the time, suggesting that they're still in somewhat of an exploratory mode, perhaps searching for the largest concentrations of krill on which to feed.
Passengers aboard the Christopher out of Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach saw two blue whales on its noon run.
Blue and humpback whales also are being seen off Santa Barbara.
The arrival of blue whales off the Los Angeles/Orange County area -- if in fact this is the beginning of a consistent sighting season -- is occurring about a month later than the last two years.
About 2,000 blue whales migrate north to waters off California and the Pacific northwest each summer to gorge on shrimp-like krill.
The last two summers were the best-ever for Southland whale-watchers.
-- Image of blue whales spotted Wednesday off Orange County is courtesy of Dana Wharf Whale Watching