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Whales and dolphins on display now off Dana Point

November 20, 2008 |  7:00 am

Risso's dolphins at play, taken during a recent trip aboard the Ocean Adventure out of Dana Wharf.

This is an impressive photo of Risso's dolphins at play, snapped by marine biologist Morgan Richie during a recent trip aboard the Ocean Adventure out of Dana Wharf.

It's a reminder that one doesn't need a whale migration to witness exciting events at sea.

But for marine mammal enthusiasts, it's also exciting that Pacific gray whales -- mostly juveniles well ahead of the migration -- are already being encountered, and prime whale-watching season is only eight weeks off.

Donna Kalez, spokeswoman for Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, said passengers have  recently seen blue whales, minke whales and fin whales, and on Sunday made the landing's first gray whale sighting of the season.

Dana Wharf's official whale-watch season begins Nov. 28. For most other landings, opening day is Dec. 26. But Dana Wharf is currently running daily excursions from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and weekend excursions from 1 to 3 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The late-afternoon trips cost $29 for adults and $19 for children 12 and younger. The 1-3 p.m. weekend trips, aboard the high-speed Ocean Adventure, cost $49 and $29.

I'm of the opinion that there's no reason to wait for the gray whales. They're boring compared with some other mammals, such as leaping dolphins. Any time's a good time for surprises. I'll be boarding soon, camera in hand.

-- Pete Thomas