What may be the largest gray whale pod seen locally in more than 30 years astonished even researchers who officially count the ocean giants, the American Cetacean Society reported late Sunday night.
"These whales actually turned out to be a super-megapod of at least 23 gray whales!! Photos coming soon," the researchers posted on Facebook shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday.
"I feel so blessed," said Patch contributor and waterfront blogger Phil Friedman. He was aboard the Harbor Breezes whale watching boat out of Long Beach that spotted the superpod after it passed the Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes where a team of researchers is counting the annual migration of gray whales south to the waters of Baja, California. Click here for early photos.
So many whales were blowing at the same time that it created "magical dancing water," Friedman said as he interviewed the charter boat Christopher's captain Captain Christian Batts.
Flagged by the whale researchers, the charter boat captain told Friedman he gunned the boat in a new direction. "In 30 years on the water, I've never seen a large pod of whales like that, especially gray whales."
Gray whale season officially began Dec. 26, 2012, and sightings off the Southern California coastline may be expected nearly daily through April.
Friedman wrote Sunday night:
"At least 21 and perhaps as many as 26 gray whales treated whale watching enthusiasts to an incredible show today out of Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach (www.2seewhales.com).
"Whale researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger says that this is the largest pod of gray whales she has ever seen and may be the largest seen in three decades."
Friedman was on board along with Christopher Captain Christian Batts, Alisa Schulman-Janiger, and passengers who were on board this historic day in Southern California whale watching."