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Pod of blue whales swims off Long Beach coast

August 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The rare, endangered blue whale is one of nature's grandest creatures. A pod of more than a dozen whales off was swimming off the Southern California coast Monday.

It was not clear why there was such a large concentration of the blue whales off the shore of Long Beach Monday, but there were all kinds of people jumping at the chance to catch a glimpse of them. The world's biggest creatures were swimming only 12 miles from Long Beach.

"It is the largest thing that has ever lived on Earth," said Captain Dan Salas, Harbor Breeze Cruises. "There has been nothing bigger that has ever lived or walked or swam on this Earth. A blue whale can grow well over 100 feet in length and weigh over 100 tons."

It's a sight that usually doesn't come this early in the season. Monday's whales are two months early, in fact. And even more astonishing, the concentration of them, at least 15 blue whales spotted in a 5-mile radius.

"The rare thing that we have going on with this today is that there's only about two thousand known blue whales here in the Pacific Ocean known by scientists that live here," said Salas. "Today we have at least 15 in one concentrated area. Maybe more."

"It's just fantastic. It's like a once in a lifetime," said Long Beach resident Linda Doag.

And they have an audience from around the world.

"We're going to take home this memory and we we're just saying we're going to come back and do it all again," said Arnold Vredegoor, a visitor from London. "Maybe in the other season when the other species are in season."

"They were a lot bigger than expected. They're closer to the boat than I thought too," said Toronto resident Jordan Dunkerley.

Five whales were spotted in 10 minutes, including a mother and her calf.

"Wonderful. I've never seen so many whales. And I've never seen a mother and baby whale together," said Doag.

"It's fantastic. Well they are in season obviously, but we didn't expect to see this many," said Vredogoor. "We've seen whales before but no sightings anywhere near as good as this. This is by far the best we've seen."

Blue whale season goes through September and then gray whale season starts again in December.


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