It’s Whale Weekend in Santa Monica

Most mornings I make it a point to go walk the beach, to enjoy the changing nature of the surf and shoreline while I have the chance. I have to admit, there are times I wish I had better camera equipment with me than just my phone. Standing on the beach in full zoom, I’m lucky to have gotten this iPhone shot of what I think are dolphins.

Dolphins Maybe

I had spotted dolphins near the surf around Christmas time which made me curious to know who all was out there in the Bay. And did they have friends? When’s the best time to see them?

Enrolling in  the “University of Google”, I learned that there are more than one genus of dolphin that frequents Santa Monica Bay – Bottlenose and Common. Flipper was a Bottlenose dolphin with an all gray body.  Common dolphins have dark backs, white bellies and an hour glass shaped marking along their flank that varies in color on the front portion and is a dirty grey on the back portion.

The morning I took the photo, I kept pestering surfers as they came out of the water – what kind of dolphins were they? No one knew. If you just look at their coloring on the side of their body it’ll be obvious. But I can’t see it from shore! And my phone camera just can’t capture the detail.

I asked the surfers who work at Dogtown Coffee Shop. I asked my friends that have lived here for 30 years. No one knew.

Apparently I’m the only nerdy tourist who is curious to know Bottlenose or Common. I need to consult with some experts.

During my studies, I was super excited to have discovered that it’s Whale Weekend at the Santa Monica Bay Aquarium – this very weekend!

I’ve been searching the horizon for telltale blows of humpback whales in the Santa Monica Bay having seen one off in the distance back in January. The whales have begun their annual migration north from their winter birthing grounds off Baja California to their feeding grounds in the arctic waters off Canada and Alaska .

I have so many questions to ask the naturalists who will be hosting afternoon viewing stations out on the Pier. (I really hope they have strong binoculars so we can spot the action not visible from shore.)

If the humpback whales fail to appear on schedule, at least I can check off a few burning Santa Monica Bay need-to-knows from a list I’ve started:

What the heck is this we found washed up on shore? And how many are out there?

What the hack is this thing that washed up on shore?

Is this a Stingray?

What crawled out of this shell?

Crawled Out

I have never seen a shell like this.


Mussel, Clam or Oyster?

Oyster or Mussell

We keep interchanging names. Can you tell we grew up in the MidWest?


 What do live Sand Dollars look like?

Sand Dollar

I’ve found a few unbroken shells but never seen a live one.


I’ll keep you posted as I find the answers!