Mark Smith Photography | Sea Lions, Dolphins and Whales Oh My!

Sea Lions, Dolphins and Whales Oh My!

March 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Every once in a while that beautiful temptress known as “the ocean” calls my name and like a man who is head over heels in love, I blindly answer her call. The ocean is a magical place. Anyone who has had the sheer pleasure of seeing where the land meets the sea knows this. The way the sand caresses your bare feet. The way the fresh ocean breeze blows through your hair. The way that magical salty water transforms even the oldest person into a small child. 

Yes, I love the ocean and pretty much anything related to it. so when the opportunity to “look for whales” in the breathtaking blue waters of the mighty Pacific Ocean presented itself to me, I decided it was my civic duty to take this extremely challenging and dangerous job so that you could experience it as well. The things I do for others. Heavy Sigh....That's a little bit of sarcasm.

As we slowly floated out of the safety of the harbor, a small group of sea lions slowly rose out of the water. Like synchronized swimmers, they all stick their flippers out of the water and slowly wave to us.

Sea LionsSea LionsSea Lions How nice of them to wave goodbye to us, I thought. Was that laughter I could hear? Were the sea lions laughing at us? No, that would be the gulls flying overhead. Why were they laughing and why were the sea lions waving goodbye? Did these experienced ocean dwelling creatures know something I didn't? Would this trip have me finding the infamous Davey Jones Locker? There are plenty of Great White Sharks (doll's eyes)  in the Pacific and the area we were in was also a well known hunting ground for the impressive Orca Whale. Hmm, maybe I went too far this time. Ah, who am I kidding. This was a fantastic opportunity to see some awesome marine life! Bring on the whales!

Peering down into the deep yet surprisingly clear blue waters has a way of making time move at a different pace. The constant rise and fall of the sea adds to the hypnotizing affect. We pitched and rolled with the sea. Thank goodness I earned my sea legs a long time ago. Those 8-10 foot swells were causing a little bit of seasickness among the other people on the boat. A few unlucky folks were busy feeding the fish at the back of the boat if you know what I mean. 

With camera ready, I patiently waited to see some marine life and I didn't need to wait long either. A large pod of dolphins decided to join us. A huge smile formed on my face as the dolphins played in the wake of the boat. I was so thrilled, I didn't dare take my eyes off them. I completely forgot the giant camera lens dangling from my neck!

Like good stewards, the dolphins led us to our first group of gray whales. The first whale spout appears about 100 feet from the boat. The hum and vibration of the boat engines stops as the boat captain powers down the motors. 

We are now slowly drifting towards two large gray whales. I raise my zoom lens to get a closer look at these incredible animals. I can easily see them just below the surface of the water. I try to keep calm. I have to remain cool. Nope, that's not happening. I can't contain myself. I am smiling and laughing. Those simple things called “words” manage to vanish from my brain.

I open my mouth to say something and one of the gray whales rises out of the water. Its huge barnacle covered head is now looking right at me. Once again, I foolishly try to form words and nothing happens. I do manage to fire off a few shots before the giant slowly sinks below the surface of the ocean. There are definitely no words in the English language to describe this moment.

Gray WhaleGray WhaleGray Whale Immediately after this moment, we find ourselves surrounded by Risso Doplhins. They are everywhere, hundreds of them and once again words manage to escape me but my right index finger is busy snapping pictures. 

Risso DolphinRisso Dolphin Risso DolphinRisso Dolphin We are not done yet. Two more gray whales join the party. The amount of marine life is astonishing. I'm not sure if the gray whales were saying goodbye or not, but one of them managed to wave goodbye with a tale flipper. 

Gray Whale Tail FinGray Whale Tail FinGray Whale Tail Fin On the way in we are greeted by a mother Sea Otter who has a baby on her chest. Unbelievable. 

Sea Otter With BabySea Otter With BabySea Otter With Baby Let's not forget the world's proudest sea lion. Look at this guy. He couldn't look anymore smug!

Sea LionSea LionSea Lion What make the perfect ending to such an incredible day exploring the beautiful Pacific ocean? How about this incredible sunset?

California SunsetCalifornia SunsetCalifornia Sunset Yes, I can easily say I love the ocean. Who could blame me?


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