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WATCH: Gray Whale Times Five

A drone-carried camera offers unique view. They even join a pod of dolphins.

From Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari:

In this beautiful and amazing footage filmed on Wednesday a pod of migrating gray whales passes through a pod of common dolphins.

Whale watching passengers and crew aboard “Manute’a,” a high-tech whale watching catamaran sailboat operated by Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, initially believed that there were only three animals because the whales were not all surfacing at the same time.

Captain Dave joined them in his small inflatable boat, launched his small drone quadcopter, and with the unique aerial perspective provided by the drone, Captain Dave could see that there were actually five gray whales. As the drone followed the whales from a safe and respectful distance above, Captain Dave and passengers aboard Manute’a watched the gray whales intersect with a pod of wild dolphins.

"In nearly 20 years of whale watching, we have never seen this many gray whales in one season. Whale watching is really amazing right now. And being able to film the whales from above opens a window into these animals’ lives. As you see in the video I could see them from the air the entire time the drone was above them, but from the boat they were invisible once they went under the surface.

"You can see the whales roll over on their backs and interacting with each other. Wow! I love have access to this POV,” says Captain Dave.

Gray whale sightings continue to break records in March. The remarkable season for gray whales began in December 2013 when sightings broke all of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari’s previous records. It continued when gray whale sightings in January and February 2014 demolished all prior records as well. And now March is making history too. Whale watchers with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari have had 272 gray whale encounters from the first of March through the 20th. In comparison last March had only 216 sightings for the entire month!

Gray whales average 40 to 50 feet in length and have the longest migration of any mammal. Each year the whales migrate 10,000 to 12,000 miles round trip from their feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the warm lagoons of Baja, California, to mate and have their calves.

Gray whales face several challenges during their migration including killer whales and entanglement in gill nets. According to scientific estimates entanglement kills nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales ever day around the world.

Captain Dave formed Orange County's first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has been involved in disentangling several whales, including a gray whale named Lily, whose disentanglement in Dana Point Harbor made national headlines. He authored the award-winning book, “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey”, and recently launched his new power catamaran, “Lily Whale Research/Rescue Safari”, a 62-foot luxury whale watching vessel that has also been specially equipped to rescue entangled whales and dolphins as well as conduct photographic recapture research.
Christie March 22, 2014 at 12:41 AM
What amazing footage! Thanks for posting! : )
Smokey Bear March 22, 2014 at 06:01 PM
Wow! That is amazing footage. I love when the whales turn an eye up to the camera at about 1:14, it's like they are checking out the drone to see what it is. They are so smart! & the dolphins that swim past them look like tiny fish because the whales are so huge! The dolphins really give it a lot of size perspective! Nice!
Joker Joe March 23, 2014 at 02:00 PM
Outstanding!!!

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