LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) --It's a moment only a few get to experience. Twice a year, some 20,000 gray whales migrate in the winter from the cold waters in Alaska to the warm lagoons in Mexico, making their way down the Southern California coastline.
"Gray whales are the easiest ones to spot from shore. Typically, they will travel a little bit closer," said Kera Mathis, a marine biologist for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
Mathis says seeing these large mammals so close to shore has never been so easy.
"Our sightings have also increased quite a bit over the last few years. We're not totally sure if that means that there are just more whales or if those whales are just traveling closer to shore. We always want to remind people to maintain your distance," she said.
Mathis says El Nino-related storms have not affected the gray whales' southward journey.
The Boyd-Sandoval family took their kids out of school and traveled from Simi Valley for the whale-sighting experience.
"I thought it was important enough for them to miss school because I think it's more educational to experience it rather than read it out of a book," Iona Boyd-Sandoval said.
Capt. Dan Salas of Harbor Breeze Cruises says whale-watching season runs through the end of April.
It's estimated that the gray whales' journey to the south is approximately 5,000 miles.