This year will mark the 29th annual Whale Watch Weekend & Intertidal Festival at Cabrillo National Monument! Whale Watch Weekend is great opportunity to check out the park and learn about the importance of protecting our oceans. The two-day festival (Saturday Feb 20 and Sunday Feb 21) will feature whale watching at the recently redesigned Whale Watch and Kelp Forest Overlook and exhibitors from a variety of organizations that support ocean conservation.
Each winter, the Pacific Gray Whales pass by the western cliffs of Cabrillo National Monument on their journey towards the warmer bays of Baja California. They typically spend the summer feeding in food-rich waters of the Arctic before heading south to mate and nurse their young. Point Loma and the Monument make for perfect lookouts to view these majestic whales as they pass by on their route south.
Mid-January is the peak of the migration, but the Grays are visible from mid- to late December through March. Visitors will enjoy the best viewing of the whales from the Whale and Kelp Forest Overlook and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse; sandstone cliffs drop off into intertidal habitat off the overlook that visitors may also visit during the festival. The intertidal zone (characterized by a series of tide pools and and an incredible diversity of marine and plant life) refers to the point where land and sea merge; plants and animals are generally submerged during high tide and exposed to the sun and wind on the rocky reef during low tide.
The whales that migrate through here are swimming past the second largest kelp forest in southern California, right here at Cabrillo Monument. Because of the sheer number of whales actually migrating, it should be possible to see a whale anytime during the daylight hours. If you have questions or need help spotting one, park staff will gladly help you.
Weekend festival activities will include marine awareness presentations, whale watching, and lectures on federal and state agencies that protect our oceans. In addition, this year’s festival will feature tide pool exploration and a presentation on the Marine Protected Areas, Ranger programs on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Kelp Forest Ecology, and interactive storytelling for children about the creation of the tides. Don’t miss the movie about the Pacific Gray Whale, which will be shown several times a day in the park auditorium throughout the weekend.
Bring binoculars if you have them! They make viewing much easier and more enjoyable. A limited number of binoculars will be available with a picture ID at the Visitor Center during whale season, but they go quickly! Just ask for a pair at the information desk.
Head to the National Park Service website for more information and to learn more about Cabrillo National Monument.
[image: nps.gov, flickr.com/39908901@N06]
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