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Whales make sweet love off O.C. coast

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

It seems these lovers just couldn't wait to get to their romantic destination in Baja.

Spectators got a rare show on Sunday as two gray whales got busy in the waters just off Dana Point, intertwining in a mating ritual by rolling around and bumping up next to each other.

"Oh my gosh, they are mating right there," Capt. Dave Anderson, owner Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari, said in a video capturing the moment. "Look at that, he's thrashing trying to push up against her."

Anderson's crew got a call from shore from someone who thought the whale was entangled, but when the whale watching boat arrived they found it was a National Geographic-like moment. The courting lasted for about a half an hour, and the boat returned to shore.

The whales are on their annual migration from Alaska to Baja, the longest migration for any mammal on Earth. They leave the chilly waters up north and pass the Orange County coast for the warm waters of Baja, where they mate and give birth before beginning their journey back up the coast.

They usually wait until they get to the lagoon in Baja about 1,000 miles from O.C. to mate, but apparently this pair felt love in the air as Valentine's Day approaches. While it's not rare to see them mating on their way back up the coast, with about two sightings each year, seeing them mate on their way down south is rare.

"This is pretty unusual," said Anderson on a video. "We have two gray whales that really like each other here."

The spectators aboard the boat let out "ooohs" at the sight, and they weren't the only ones impressed by the show. A few bottlenose dolphin seemed to be curious about what the whales were doing, coming up close to the whales as they rolled around.

"Everybody was thrilled to have something like that that going on right in front of us and to be able to see it so beautifull," Anderson said.

With the whale season in full swing, spectators on the boat also got to see a rare humpback whale, a minke whale, several other gray whales, and common dolphins.

More info: www.dolphinsafari.com

Contact the writer: lconnelly@ocregister.com


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