We were watching the news the other night and heard about Avila Beach where the Humpback Whales had ventured in very close to the shore to feed on the abundant bait fishes in the bay. I had seen many Humpback Whales before on my 2005 trip to the Antarctic Peninsula and wanted Sharon to experience some of the excitement I had when seeing whales up close.
From Paso Robles we took the 46 to the coast and headed south on highway 1 towards Morro Bay. The drive up the coast was foggy but when we got to Morro Bay and Morro Rock was beautiful as it was being enveloped in the drifting fog. As we approached Avila Beach there seemed to be an opening in the sky and the sun shone brightly on the azure Pacific waters.
Traffic also noticeably picked up and there were lots of people who must have heard the same whale sighting news report we had heard. After a bit of searching we finally found a parking spot. Once parked we could see a large crowd of people at the end of the road on a dock. Also there were 100’s if not 1000’s of Brown Pelicans diving nearby in the waters offshore feeding on the abundant anchovies and sardines found in these chilly waters.
Where we saw the largest concentration of Pelicans was where the Humpback Whales would frequently break the surface while gorging themselves on the bait fish. In fact the best way to predict where the whales would surface next was to simply watch the pelicans closely. Suddenly the pelicans would become more frenzied and start attacking the water for bait fish. This happens because the whales from below are chasing schools of anchovies and sardines to the surface as they gorge themselves on the small delectable fishes. As the small bait fish near the surface the pelicans take notice and lift off the waters in mass diving head first in the water hoping to fill their pouches with food. It is quite a spectacle watching this occur over and over again.
These whales were putting on quite a show for the throngs of people waiting with cameras ready. As the whales would make their next appearance you could hear the clicks of the cameras and '”ooooohhhhs and ahhhhhs'” from the crowd. There wasn’t only whales and pelicans gorging on these small helpless fishes as we saw many Harbor Seals and pods of Dolphins in the bay as well. Of course there were the ever present sea gulls around as they would try and steal a snack from the pelicans as they would catch their meal.
Then it is on to Vista, California between LA and San Diego where we will stay as a guest of a friend of mine at an Elk’s lodge while we investigate if we want to join this fine organization. We plan to stay at least 10 days at the Elks before heading a bit further south to the San Diego area where we will look for a place to stay a month.