A summer whale watching trip in San Diego!

Wow! Talk about a fun summer adventure! Today, thanks to Hornblower Cruises and Events, I enjoyed a summer whale watching trip out in the beautiful Pacific Ocean off San Diego!

I and other passengers aboard the Adventure Hornblower cruised out of San Diego Bay and continued many miles west of Point Loma in search of blue whales, the largest animal on planet Earth.

Spotting these enormous mammals, which move through the oceans in a constant pursuit of food, can be a hit or miss proposition, but it was such a sunny, perfect day and the wide ocean was so calm and blue, I didn’t really care what we might happen to discover!

We did see numerous pods of dolphins almost everywhere we turned. They fed and played in the gentle swells nearby, and didn’t seem to mind the big ship full of pointing humans passing overhead.

I took lots of photos, but dolphins break the surface unexpectedly then quickly melt back into the water, so my small camera just managed to get a few decent pics. You have to be there to feel the excitement, not to mention the fresh wind and bright sunshine. It’s an incredible, magical experience!

Had this been a winter whale watching trip, we would likely have seen gray whales as they migrate along the California coast to and from Mexico. During the summer it’s possible to spot a variety of other whales, including blue whales and humpback whales, but these species don’t follow a predictable route of migration.

Our captain took us a good distance out into the open ocean. All hands searched the horizon when we reached the Nine Mile Bank–an underwater mountain range teeming with sea life where blue whales often feed. On our way out we spotted the distant spout of a Fin Whale–the second-largest species on Earth–but were unable to successfully see it up close.

On our way back to San Diego we approached another boat that might have sighted a whale. We turned off our motor and silently drifted in, watching carefully, but we saw only dolphins and a group of feeding gulls and pelicans. The other boat had a drone hovering over the water, but it didn’t seem to find what it was looking for.

As we neared the channel into San Diego Bay, friendly people from the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park gave a short educational presentation, complete with close up photos of blue whales, an example of the filter-like baleen that these huge whales use to collect four tons of tiny krill per day, and a toothy dolphin skull. Kids enjoyed learning about all the cool marine life and had many questions!

I should mention, the summer whale watching trip included a narrated tour of the north part of San Diego Bay, where you always see something new. Including sea lions! It’s just as fun and interesting as a regular harbor cruise.

Because we didn’t spot a whale today, every passenger got a voucher for another free whale watching trip, or a harbor cruise on San Diego Bay. You can bet I’ll use mine!

Find out more about this awesome four hour summer whale watching adventure by visiting Hornblower’s San Diego website here!

IMG_1922x

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

More of nature’s beauty in Mission Valley.

This morning I got off the trolley in Mission Valley earlier than usual, so I walked around.

Please enjoy a few photograph’s of nature’s beauty.

I walked down a path through landscaping near the Hazard Center trolley station, along a short segment of the San Diego River Trail, then turned north at Mission Center Road to head to work.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Exhibit shows Kumeyaay history in the South Bay.

The Chula Vista Heritage Museum now has an exhibit that includes Kumeyaay history in the South Bay. Bringing the past to life.
The Chula Vista Heritage Museum has an exhibit that features Kumeyaay history in the South Bay. Bringing the past to life.

Until this afternoon I’d never stepped inside the Civic Center Branch of the Chula Vista Public Library. The other day I learned this library is home to the Chula Vista Heritage Museum, so I wanted to take a look!

The small but very fine museum, which is located in a corner of the library, now features an exhibit titled Natural History and the Indigenous People of the South Bay. There are all sorts of fascinating displays concerning fossils and wildlife and natural resources that are an essential part of Chula Vista’s story. But the section that fascinated me most provides information about the Native American Kumeyaay people and their very long history in the South Bay.

If you are interested in this region and its rich history, head down to the Civic Center Branch of the Chula Vista Public Library when it’s open, and take a stroll through the Chula Vista Heritage Museum!

In addition to displays about birds, fish, wildlife and plants, the exhibit explores the history of indigenous people in the South Bay region.
In addition to displays about birds, fish, wildlife and plants, the exhibit explores the history of indigenous people in the South Bay region.
Our Kumeyaay ancestors understood that without water there is no life. The term Mai Ha refers to the Creator--the life sustaining water cycle from the heavens to the Earth.
Our Kumeyaay ancestors understood that without water there is no life. The term Mai Ha refers to the Creator–the life sustaining water cycle from the heavens to the Earth.
The Kumeyaay near the coast traded acorns, deer meat, baskets, seafood and shells for obsidian, red ochre, pottery, agave and other items from clans in the eastern mountains and deserts.
The Kumeyaay near the coast traded acorns, deer meat, baskets, seafood and shells for obsidian, red ochre, pottery, agave and other items from clans in the eastern mountains and deserts.
Kumeyaay artifacts include willow baskets. Bedrock mortars and metates were used to grind acorns to flour.
Kumeyaay artifacts include beautiful willow baskets. Bedrock mortars and metates were used to grind acorns to flour.
The Kumeyaay made sandals, nets and rope from the fibers of Coastal Agave and Yuccas.
The Kumeyaay made sandals, nets and rope from the fibers of Coastal Agave and Yuccas.
Maps show extent of the Kumeyaay/Diegueño Nation in 1775, 1822 and 1850, as Spain, Mexico and the United States took control of more land.
Maps show extent of the Kumeyaay/Diegueño Nation in 1775, 1822 and 1850, as Spain, Mexico and the United States took control of more land.
The Kumeyaay of the Sycuan band have ancestral village sites along the Sweetwater River. The village of Chiap or Chayp was located by mudflats at the southern end of South Bay.
The Kumeyaay of the Sycuan band have ancestral village sites along the Sweetwater River. The village of Chiap or Chayp was located by mudflats at the southern end of South Bay.
Historical photo of a Kumeyaay village in the South Bay region. San Diego Bay and the Silver Strand are visible in the background.
Historical photo of a Kumeyaay village in the South Bay region. San Diego Bay and the Silver Strand are visible in the background.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Mustard brightens a walk in Peñasquitos Canyon.

This morning I took a short hike through the west part of Peñasquitos Canyon. I started at the developed trailhead on Sorrento Valley Boulevard, and walked down the dirt trail to the historic El Cuervo adobe ruin, which I will blog about shortly.

It’s springtime, the air is warming, and the hills all about San Diego are bright yellow with blooming mustard. Many beautiful parts of Peñasquitos Canyon seem to have painted with an artist’s brush.

Even though most of the mustard one sees in San Diego isn’t native, the cheerful appearance of yellow hillsides reminds those who live in our city that summer is just around the bend.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Colorful nature painted near Fiesta Island.

I discovered some colorful artwork last weekend during my walk around Mission Bay!

As I headed north along East Mission Bay Drive just past the entrance to Fiesta Island, approaching Tecolote Creek, I saw that images from nature had been painted on the low barrier that separates the small parking lot from the walking path. I spotted birds and fish and whales and flowers and all sorts of marine wildlife and native critters.

It appeared all of nature had gathered at my feet!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Natural habitat for birds, wildlife near SeaWorld.

A few people walk down a dirt path near SeaWorld. Native coastal plants provide habitat for migratory birds and local wildlife.
A few people walk down a dirt path next to SeaWorld. Coastal plants provide habitat for birds and wildlife.

There’s a quiet, seldom visited area adjacent to SeaWorld that provides valuable habitat for both local and migratory birds. You can find this narrow strip of land directly northeast of SeaWorld, on the edge of Mission Bay, just west of South Shores Park.

Walk down the dirt path by the water and you’ll discover native plants, beautiful views, a few park benches, and a sense of wonder. This bit of land was set aside as natural coastal habitat with the help of the Audubon Society, SeaWorld San Diego, and a several other organizations who care about protecting the environment.

I walked down the path during the weekend and read a number of interesting signs. Few other people were around. I shared the warm sunshine with birds that took flight over land and water.

Click the photos of signs if you’d like to read them.

One sign displays plants that provide food and shelter for the birds and insects of Mission Bay.
One sign displays plants that provide food and shelter for the birds and insects of Mission Bay.
Heading west down the path, along the south edge of Mission Bay.
Heading west down the rough path, along the south shore of Mission Bay.
Looking north across the water at boats, kayaks and Fiesta Island.
Looking north across the water at boats, kayaks and Fiesta Island.
Audubon's Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program identifies and conserves a network of sites essential for wild bird populations. Mission Bay is one of seven IBAs in San Diego County.
Audubon’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program identifies and conserves a network of sites essential for wild bird populations. Mission Bay is one of seven IBAs in San Diego County.
A patch of what I believe is Ceanothus, or California Lilac. A bird perched on some dry sunflowers is a gray blur in this photograph.
A patch of what I believe is Ceanothus, or California Lilac. A bird perched on some dry yellow flowers is a blur in this photograph.
Mission Bay sustains thousands of birds, as many species stop over in San Diego during their migration along the Pacific flyway.
Mission Bay sustains thousands of birds, as many species stop over in San Diego during their migration along the Pacific flyway.
Looks like a heron flying overhead, scanning the water.
Looks like a heron flying overhead, scanning the water.
Sign identifies birds that might be seen here. San Diego is home to nearly 500 bird species.
Sign identifies birds that might be seen here. San Diego is home to nearly 500 bird species.
Some shelter by the water for birds and other small animals.
Some shelter by the water for birds and other small animals.
More natural habitat that contains much hidden life.
More natural habitat that contains much hidden life.
Another sign with more California natives, including plants and birds.
Another sign with more California natives, including plants and birds.
Someone walks on a path that winds near the entrance to this little visited park-like space.
Someone walks on a path that winds near the entrance to this small park-like space.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Del Mar’s natural beauty, beach from Coaster!

I was careful to sit on the west side of the Coaster yesterday for my trip from San Diego to Encinitas. The very best views can be enjoyed from that side when riding the train through Del Mar.

I thought it would be fun to take photographs of the natural beauty. As we quickly moved through La Jolla out over Los Peñasquitos Lagoon I had my camera ready.

I snapped photographs nonstop as we flew over the marshy lagoon and past Torrey Pines State Beach, then up along the bluff’s edge toward Seagrove Park.

We were moving so fast that the nearby vegetation was a blur. But my small camera was able to capture the distant sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve, the broad Pacific Ocean’s beautiful white surf, people down below on the beach, and even a line of pelicans flying through the blue sky.

I altered these photos a bit, sharpening them and increasing contrast.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!