Like last year, the Gray Whales have waited until the final week of January to be passing Orange County, CA in earnest but there is a steady stream. I have seen a lot more early northbound whales than I am used to this time of year. Warming winters in Alaska are a likely reason that the migration is arriving so late as the Grays have less reason to leave early if its still warm in the Bering Strait.
We are having a lot of luck with Pacific White Sided dolphin this year as well and its a super unique species to be able to observe so regularly, I strongly advise anyone who has never seen that species before to come to the OC and get on a boat!
Great update today with all of the best shots from the rash of Humpback Whale sightings we have had to open the year! I've really enjoyed logging some new individuals for my HappyWhale.com page as well as enjoying the excitement of their behaviors. We have also confirmed Gray, Bryde's, and Minke Whales out there lately.
I am also proud to let you all know that I'll be on my way to Queensland, Australia and the South Island of New Zealand to enjoy the local marine life. I'll be photographing, recording, and writing about as much as I can on what is one of my biggest bucket list trips I have ever undertaken. I have really dreamed about Kaikoura in New Zealand for some time and I am hopeful to see some new species of marine mammals!
2019 is poised to be a very special year so I decided to kick it off with a modest donation to the Ocean Defenders Alliance as well, check them out at www.oceandefenders.org and learn more about their work to preserve our oceans. Their work removing harmful abandoned fishing gear and clearing coral reefs in California and Hawaii is absolutely amazing.
I'm way past due to update this page for Nov/Dec 2018 so I'll get right to it.
You can order a 2019 Calendar by emailing me at email@example.com. I think they turned out great! They were done in the same style as last year's calendar. I have filled all the pre orders so I can now start taking online orders. Only a limited quantity is available for online orders. Cost is $20.00 USD and to commemorate this being my 3rd year of publishing the calendar I have decided to do free shipping this year on all US orders as a way of saying THANK YOU to those of you who have supported me since I began Dale Frink Photography and www.dalefrink.com in 2014.
This is a very large update that reflects a very successful trip with Newport Coastal Adventure (the best whale watching experience in Orange County, CA by FAR!). We identified twelve different Humpback Whales that day on a long range 8 hour trip. This was my second annual trip doing this and I am looking forward to making this an annual tradition.
I have updated the "Search by Species" page to reflect a change made recently. Scientific literature is now once more lumping the various Common Dolphin species into one species with multiple subspecies instead of distinct species on their own. There's some good rationale behind this decision but it could change again one day depending on popular consensus in the future. One of the best things about science is that new research and observation can influence the textbooks! I will still do my best to differentiate between the two subspecies as best I can.
Whale Watching Report:
Still tough on the larger whales and now weather has had an impact on local sightings. Hopefully the Gray Whales return to form by the end of the year so that holiday sightings are much improved! I look forward to sharing images of whatever we see.
Visitors to the site will notice a couple of subtle but important changes here on the site starting today. Most notably is the addition of a terrestrial mammals album to celebrate seeing North American megafauna in Alaska! Bears, Moose, Caribou and more are represented with more to be added in the future! This site will always be primarily dedicated to Marine Mammals but celebrating the diversity of nature is also very important to me. I've also updated the Beaked Whale album by changing it to the "Toothed Whale" album to reflect my first sighting of wild Beluga Whales! For now this album will cover all members of the Odontocete family that aren't Dolphins or Porpoises.
I'm back from Alaska and while I haven't yet finished going through all of the pictures I can say the trip was a great success! I have the first images of what will be a terrestrial mammals section soon with the fauna of the Alaskan tundra and the scenery of Denali National Park providing the first photos. Before I add all of those photos to the website though I have updated the site with my post-Alaska photos including breaching Humpbacks, Transient Orcas, and Risso's Dolphin!
On a side note, in 2018 Southern California has experienced more Orca sightings on whale watching trips than the coast three years combined and the possibility exists that more will occur before the year ends. How exciting!
Well this mid-August update is a bigger one than expected thanks to the arrival of a handful of Humpback Whales, two of which decided to hold breach-a-thons right off of Newport Harbor! Hope you enjoy this lengthy series as they are without a doubt two of the best Humpback encounters Orange County has ever witnessed!
We also had an exciting visitor...our first confirmed southbound GRAY WHALE of 2018/2019! The whale didn't appear to be out of the ordinary other than the time of year although it did have a relatively heavy infestation of lice.
It has been a very long and busy summer. At the time of writing this post I have been on 254 whale watches since June 1st in Orange County waters. During that time we have documented four different species of dolphin and five different species of baleen whales. In those 500+ hours on the water I have had some incredible experiences.
Notable at this point (August 11th, 2018) is that I have recorded 28 days with Blue Whale sightings this year, my highest recorded total since 2015 (35 days with a recorded sighting). This is still a far cry from my first year of whale watching with 91 recorded days with at least one Blue Whale in 2013. Hopefully the ocean is on a healthy cycle and we will one day have one of those amazing summers again when it is time. Still, I always have that slight fear that the changes to the local ecosystem could one day become permanent if we don't start acting more strongly in the interest of long term environmental conservation.
After a major site update you might notice a lot of additions to one of the less represented species I have documented. Recently a surge of Bryde's Whale sightings have provided the opportunity to document this lesser known member of the rorqual family. One thing I did not know about this species was that the Bryde's Whale was a last resort for the whaling industry once the Blue, Fin, and Sei Whales became protected worldwide as stocks crashed and depleted. My personal experience is that the personality varies a lot between individuals and no two behave similarly. The one thread I do see in common is that none of the individuals I have ever seen react well to having too many boats around. Two or more and the experience changes drastically.
160+ new images have been added in this overdue update. The most recent Blue, Humpback, and Minke Whale photos are a much welcome addition.
I have booked a trip inn September to Alaska where I am hoping to document the cetaceans of the 49th state along with birds and terrestrial mammals, could this be the start of a new section? Only one way to find out!
Also, take a moment and head over to www.cheesemans.com and browse the selection of world travels available to book! The company is owned by esteemed whale scientist and all around good guy Ted Cheeseman and his Dominican Trip is the one I booked this past winter. If you have any ambitions for global travel and are looking for experiences unlike any other with a focus on conservation and sustainable tourism these trips are a great way to go!
Two pairs of cow/calf Blue Whales and a handful of individual other adults have made the latest site update one to remember! I really hope you enjoy viewing them. You can also quickly navigate to all Blue Whale photos with the "Search by Species" tab or by using the following link:
It has been a while since the last update but that has because this month has been incredibly busy! The first half of May saw a large number of cow/calf Gray Whales which would persist for many days longer than last year's last sightings of the season, while the second half of May has seen the welcome arrival of may Blue Whales back to our zone!
I had only ever seen Blue Whales in Gray Whales on the same date only a handful of times before but have managed to see them on the same two hour whale watch three times this month! I hope you all enjoy the recent update which has nearly taken up the entirety of the front page.
New update for April mostly featuring photos from a quick day trip to Monterey. The Orcas eluded us in the thick fog but the Humpbacks were out in force near Moss Landing. Two of them were well known including an old friend "Check" who was one of the first Humpback Whales I ever documented in person during a trip in 2014. Nice to see that whale doing so well 4 years later!
There were also some of my favorite shots from a trip to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I've never been more enamored by trees before! You might have noticed some new updates in the bird album as well.
Looking forward to moving on into May and improving how tough that month was for encounters last year!
I just posted a nice update primarily featuring Gray Whales, including some of the most fantastic breaches of my career. See these photos and more of my best photos featuring Gray Whales using the following link:
Check out photos from my recent encounter with a Gray Whale deep within Newport Beach Harbor! This little Gray Whale swam into the far back of the harbor before the low tide prevented it from going under the bridge that makes up part of Pacific Coast Highway. The whale meandered through moorings and startled a lot of smaller boats before nightfall came and spotters lost track. It has presumably left the harbor and has not been relocated in over 24 hours.
I am happy to be back in California after a 10 day trip to the beautiful Dominican Republic, home of the Silver Bank Humpback Whale Sanctuary. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be part of such an incredible trip with so many amazing encounters. Along with the numerous Humpbacks I was also graced with my first ever pod of Spotted Dolphins!
I've put up all of the new photos and will post a trip recap soon, in the meantime you can also see the updated "Search by Species" page reflecting the addition of Spotted Dolphin.
There is a lot that can be said as 2017 moves into 2018. But I'd like to use this post to let everyone know that one of my favorite whales made a new appearance in 2017 after a 3 year hiatus! Thanks to my friends at Happywhale we were able to find out that Brutus, the young Humpback that made whale watching headlines in 2014, did return as part of our late run of 2017 Humpbacks from late November to mid December.
As some of you might remember Brutus was nicknamed after the great dane surrounded by dachshunds from the movie "The Ugly Dachshund" as the whale was continuously int he midst of a pod of Common Dolphin and the 2017 did little to dispel that notion! When Brutus disappeared after November of 2014 I was hoping he or she (yeah I know its a bummer of a name if the whale turns out female) would return one day. That whale was the first Humpback recorded spending significant time in Orange County Waters and was first in a line of whales including Wally, Wilma, Felix, Tejon, and others who spent weeks within range of Newport Beach and Dana Point harbors.
Normally I wouldn't label October and November as a prime whale watching window but this year that has definitely been the case. Humpback, Fin, Minke and Gray Whales plus Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso's Dolphin, Common Dolphin and the enigmatic Risso's Dolphin all over a very short stretch of time. If only we could have seen one Blue whale it would have been all TEN of our annually seen species in a six week stretch.
It's been a little overwhelming at times juggling so many different projects and there's a lot I'd like to write about. I am hoping I will put out a better effort in 2018.