January is prime time for whale watching in Southern California, not only because it's the peak period locally for the southbound migration of about 21,000 Pacific gray whales, but because it's the best month in which to see the babies.
And during the past week they began to show for the first time this season.
On Saturday aboard the Privateer out of San Diego Whale Watch, Melissa Panfili Galieti photographed a mother gray whale and her calf, which was perhaps only a day old. Galieti's images were widely shared on Facebook and two were featured on this website.
"Mom and calf were swimming with a couple of common dolphins. The calf repeatedly threw flukes into the air. We even saw it nursing for a brief moment!"
On Sunday, the crew of the Dana Pride out of Dana Wharf Whale Watch videotaped a cow-calf pair and estimated the calf to be no more than a few days old (see top video). On Monday, the same crew videotaped another cow-calf pair (bottom video; calf appears at 34-second mark).
The ACS/L.A. Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project, which operates from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, had counted six gray whale calves through Tuesday.The whales, of course, are headed from Arctic waters to nursing lagoons along Baja California's western shore. It's estimated that about half of gray whale births occur north of Carmel, Calif., and obviously some are born off Southern California and in Baja's lagoons.