Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal and are seen every winter off Orange County. Gray whales travel about 12,000 miles from the Chukchi and Bering Seas to the lagoons of Baja, California, where they mate and have their calves.
Whale watchers see gray whales off of Orange County from December through April. Sometimes the gray whales are seen as early as November and as late as May. Gray whales are often spotted within just a mile or so of the Orange County shoreline, where they use Dana Point’s headlands as a landmark on their journey. Every March, Dana Point Harbor celebrates the annual Festival of Whales with ocean-themed events and activities that have an emphasis on education and environmental responsibility.
Throughout their migration gray whales face many challenges and hazards one of which takes the lives of nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins every day. Scientists estimate that 308,000 dolphins and whales die because of fishing gear entanglement every year worldwide. Captain Dave organized Orange County's first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including Lily, whose disentanglement made national headlines. Capt. Dave authored the award winning book, “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey”, a magnificent photographic journey of a gray whale’s migration. Part of the proceeds from the book help to fund whale disentanglement equipment.