Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises Team Up for San Diego Whale Watching Adventure
Greys, humpbacks and blues explained by enthusiastic land mammals from UCSD'S Scripps Institute of Oceanography
February 16, 2020
If you're looking for a meaningful and different experience for a morning or afternoon this season, whale watching organized by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and facilitated by Flagship Cruises and Events might just fit the bill (or baleen).
From mid-December through Mid-April, Flagship Cruises sends two ships a day carrying capable crew members, Birch Aquarium tour guides, and visitors eager to see these larger-than-life marine mammals.
With friendly tour narrators, comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces to sit or stand, and a handy sighting guarantee, you can not only get a chance to spot greys, humpbacks, and blues, but also an informative rundown of the Downtown San Diego coastline and the history of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The highlight of the cruise, for me, was on the way back into the harbor: a pod of dolphins some 200 strong sidled up to our boat. They seemed to be jumping in and out of the whitewater wake for the pure fun of it.
The dolphins and whales aren't in any way bribed, forced, or trained to present themselves for sightings, but the cruise line can confidently guarantee sightings during the migratory season because the open sea just outside the San Diego Harbor is nowadays a decidedly safe space for whales.
While nineteenth and twentieth century commercial whaling ships wreaked havoc on marine mammal populations, more recent protective laws have helped grey whale populations flourish again, becoming one of conservation's biggest success stories.
The tour boats respect these protective laws as well, avoiding any manouvers that could hit the whales or invade their personal space too much.
Info on pricing and parking can be found at https://www.flagshipsd.com/; Birch Aquarium members get a 30% discount on tickets (see https://aquarium.ucsd.edu/experiences/programs/whale-watching for details.)