What to Watch For On A Catalina Wildlife Cruise
There are 54 miles of coastline and about 75 square miles of beautiful island to explore on the island of Catalina. From Avalon to Two Harbors, Mount Orizaba to Middle Canyon, there is a lot to see and do on land – and divers certainly know that the underwater world is worth exploring. Taking a Catalina Wildlife Cruise is another island adventure that allows visitors to explore all that the island has to offer. Read on to learn about what to watch for on a Catalina Wildlife Cruise.
Big blue. In the first half of the 20th century, whalers contributed to the near-decimation of the blue whale population; hundreds of thousands of big, beautiful blue whales were killed and sold for meat, oil, and baleen. Thanks to official protections of the species—instituted in the 1960s—the populations of blue whales have begun to recover. Seeing a giant blue whale out in the ocean near the island—a possibility in the channel between Catalina and the mainland—feels like a miracle. The largest animal on the planet, blue whales often travel with a buddy feeding on krill and plankton. The summer months of July and August offer cruisers the best chance at seeing these majestic creatures.
Flying fish. Picture this: a sea lion swims and splashes its way in and out of the water to catch a fleeing flying fish. This is a scene that often happens in the marine-life-rich waters of Catalina Island. The amazing flying fish off Catalina have a torpedo-like shape that helps them to gain speed burst out of the surface of the water. Their pectoral fins look like blue wings and help them to glide—or fly—over the ocean.
Fins on ‘phins. Be on the lookout at the back of your cruising boat, checking the waves of the wake. Common dolphins love to play in wakes, and they’re not shy around watercraft. These squid-and-fish-eating cetaceans often swim in pods, so chances are you’ll spot more than one at a time. Other dolphin species that can be seen close to the island include Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.
Pinnipeds. Fin-footed California sea lions can sometimes be seen floating on their backs with their fins the air in a practice that is called thermo-regulating—regulating their body temperature in the cool waters of the Pacific. These curious creatures are often spotted on a wildlife cruise.
California gray. Almost half of the year, you can count on the Pacific gray whales to pass by Catalina as they migrate up to Alaska for their summer season and down south to Baja for the winter. These great gray mammals are often covered in barnacles, and their unique feeding style sends them scouring the sea floor for crustaceans and mollusks.
Mola mola. The huge ocean sunfish is one of the more unique creatures to see out on an ocean cruise. These fish have a silver and gray, flat, disc-like body that includes a little mouth, big eyes, and a lumpy pseudo-tail. They are often seen floating on the surface, drifting along with ocean currents.
Goldfish. Well, not really goldfish, but California’s state marine fish—garibaldi—are plentiful in the waters around Catalina. You may spy plenty of them as your boat pulls into or out of the harbor. These bright orange, beautiful fish are protected in coastal California waters.
Seabirds. You’re surrounded by beautiful blue waters around Catalina Island but be sure to look up when you’re on a wildlife tour too. Birds in the surf zone include California brown pelicans, Brandt’s cormorant, Western gulls, great blue herons, and even bald eagles. Islands like Catalina are critical to the survival of many species, as the environment often supports breeding colonies of many different birds.
Are you ready to cruise for Catalina wildlife? On the 2-hour boat adventure with Catalina Divers Supply, you can have up-close encounters with all kinds of coastal critters. There are gorgeous kelp forests and picturesque shorelines to examine as you ride along with the boat’s Captain and Crew as your experienced guides.
When you take a Coastal Wildlife Cruise with Catalina Divers Supply, you’re not just whale watching. You’ll be on the lookout for a treasure trove of beautiful creatures. Tours last for 2 hours and are available from Wednesday to Sunday. These wildlife cruises are great for families with kids; ages 5 and up are welcome.