Whale Watch Weekend and Inter-Tidal Life Festival on January 17-18

Whale Watch Weekend, happening January 17-18, is a chance for Cabrillo National Monument to invite the San Diego community to the park and encourage them to learn about the importance of protecting our oceans. The two-day festival will feature whale watching at the recently re-designed Whale Watch and Kelp Forrest Overlook and exhibitors from a variety of organizations that support ocean conservation. The festival will include marine awareness, whale watching and lectures on federal and state agencies that protect our oceans. In addition, this year’s festival will feature tidepool exploration and a presentation on the Marine Protected Areas; Ranger programs on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Kelp Forrest Ecology and an interactive storytelling for children about the creation of the tides.

Each winter, the Pacific Gray Whales pass by the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument. After spending the summer feeding in the food-rich waters of the Arctic, the Grays swim south along the coast to the bays of Baja California, where they mate and nurse their young. Along the way, they pass Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument, where you can witness the annual winter journey.

Mid-January is the peak of the migration, but the Grays are visible from mid- to late December through March. From the Whale and Kelp Forest Overlook and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse visitors can enjoy the best viewing of these whales in San Diego from land. Descending these slopes of the overlook, sandstone cliffs drop off into intertidal habitat that visitors may visit during the festival. The intertidal zone is where the land and sea merge. Here marine plants and animals are submerged during high tide and exposed to the sun and wind on the rocky reef during low tide. This ocean environment supports a tremendous diversity of life.

The whales that migrate past here swim right past the second largest kelp forest in southern California. It is possible to see the whales anytime during daylight hours. Park staff can gladly help visitors spot a whale. Visitors should check at the visitor center for information about ranger talks and whale watching during the festival and throughout the season. Don’t miss the movie about the Pacific Gray Whale that is shown several times a day in the park auditorium. Later, in the spring, the gray whales will migrate north again, but they are generally too far out in the ocean to see from the park.

During the festival bring binoculars if you have them; binoculars make viewing much easier and more enjoyable.  A limited number of binoculars are available with a picture ID at the Visitor Center during whale season; ask for them at the information desk.

Saturday January 17

  • 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.: Exhibitor Fair (visitor center complex)
  • 12 p.m.:  First Breath, Whales (film)
  • 1 p.m.:  Ranger Guided Tidepool Exploration
  • 1:30 p.m.: Experience 16th Century Shipboard Life, VIP Program
  • 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Children’s activities — make buttons, binoculars and whale origami!
  • 3 p.m.:  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Ranger Program
  • 4:20 p.m.: Last shuttle from the tidepool parking lot.

Sunday January 18

  • 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.:  Exhibitor Fair (visitor center complex)
  • 12 p.m.: First Breath, Whales (film)
  • 1 p.m.: Ranger Guided Tidepool Exploration
  • 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Children’s activities — Make buttons, binoculars and whale origami!!
  • 3 p.m.: The Pacific Gray Whale Migration, Ranger Program
  • 4:20 p.m.: Last shuttle from the tidepool parking lot

Walk or take the shuttle to the tidepools. Shuttle will run both days from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., pick up at the bus stop. Last shuttle pick up from the tidepools will be 4:20 p.m.

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