Antarctica

Over 2 million whales killed from 1904-2000. Photo by M.C.
Over 2 million whales killed from 1904-2000. Photo by M.C.

On Earth Day I went to hear Ari Friedlaender, professor and marine biologist at Oregon State University talk at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. His talk was supposed to be about tagging whales in Antarctica, but it turned out more of a slide show of his photographs, which are beautiful.

I found it helpful since I wrote a novella about a woman who is a deckhand on an anti-whaling ship. Friedlaender gave a sense of what it would be like in the coldest, driest, highest, most remote and extreme part of the planet. I can imagine my character, Sarah’s, blood boiling from witnessing a whale being harpooned in one of the most beautiful and serene places wanting to jump into the water to save the whale but can’t because she’d freeze to death.

Friedlaender showed a chart of how many whales have died from 1904-2000. He said the courts say what Japan is doing isn’t science. When he says courts he means the United Nations, but Japan’s not paying mind to that.

Please email an already composed letter to Obama through International Fund for Animal Welfare.

At the end of Friedlaender’s speech he asked if anyone had any questions. There were a lot of retirees in the room. This is Dana Point where mostly only a more mature crowd can afford. So, a man started to tell Friedlaender about his trip to Antarctica and how it rained a lot, which is unusual. Then a man said how he also went to Antarctica. And yet another, a woman, said she took a cruise to Antarctica and didn’t Friedlaender think it was such a shame to have all these tourists going to Antarctica? Friedlaender disagreed he was sorry the people didn’t get out on the ice near Palmer Station. He said if people had a greater connection with the earth and the creatures then people would be more apt to protect it.

It’s like, okay people rub it in. You have traveled all over the world and the last place you’ve been is Antarctica for $10 to $15K a person for 19 days because you have the money and the time! If you’re interested I found a post card of information at the Ocean Institute about a trip to Antarctica. Quest for Whales and Landscapes of the Antarctic Peninsula, March 8-26, 2016, Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris. See you there! I wish.

Sea Explorer

Looks like common dolphin because of the two tones. Cute calves! Photo by M.C.
Looks like common dolphin because of the two tones. Cute calves! Photo by M.C.

Ocean Institute offers a whale watching tour on the Sea Explorer, but the tour I am on doesn’t have any luck. This is an educational tour with a biologist on board along with interns and more staff than needed.

Along the jetty, are maybe ten foot, long-snout Bottlenose dolphins, busy watching fishermen. The curious mammals get close to the boat. A passenger is concerned for the dolphin’s safety, but dolphins like to swim with the boat and catch the waves.

Pink Brittlestar. Photo by M.C.
Pink Brittlestar. Photo by M.C.

There is also time for dredging up sand. There are a handful of children on board who have a chance to pick out the creatures from the mud. There are mostly worms and some interesting Pink Brittlestar which is a small sea star, but you wouldn’t really think that looking at it being so tiny with long, spiky legs coming out of a dot.

This boat barely rocks. I would recommend this tour if you get sea sick easily. Though some still get sea sick on this boat. I recommend taking an apple, saltine crackers and gum. I learned that from Capt. Dave’s Dolphin Safari down the road.

Dana Point Harbor Cove with view of Ocean Institute. Photo by M.C.
Dana Point Harbor Cove with view of Ocean Institute. Photo by M.C.

Ocean Institute’s whale watching is definitely different than Capt. Dave’s. I have to say Capt. Dave’s tour is special because the staff is awesome. Capt. Dave wants to bless people so he’ll cruise around to find a whale. He said the other captains tell each other about whale sightings. I like the catamaran, I always see whales and dolphins and you get a chocolate brownie at the end made by his wife.

The Ocean Institute tours are well priced with or without membership. Also, with the cruise you get free admission to the museum. And soon they are opening up to the public on weekdays, not just weekends.

I have seen other whale watching tours where they pack on the people. Both these tours are not overcrowded and do not endanger the marine life.

Ocean Institute, 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone (949) 496-2274