Close Encounter of the Whale Kind
by Johnny Ceviche

My first outing for the year turned out to be a whale of an experience . I launched my kayak around 7:00 AM a very late launch considering I am used to launching at 4:00AM during Spring and Summer time. The surf condition, 2 to 3 feet during launch and take out. Water was flat with temperature of 54 degrees F,slight breeze from Southwest sunny and clear sky.
Paddled  past the fish reserve boundary and from there I saw Jimm H on his new yellow eXtreme and Rick on Cabo fishing around the bend of La Jolla Point. I joined them for a chat since fishing has been very slow in the morning. 
Jimm H pointed out that a whale just surfaced about 100 yards North of our location. My first reaction was to take out the camera and get ready to take some pictures while Jimm H was doing the same. While I was in the process of setting up the camera the mother whale surface twice, this time within 50 yards. 
On both occasions I really regret missing to take a photo. Once while the mother whale was blowing water spout and another while diving with it's fluke way out of the water. I was amazed about the huge water turbulent it created each time it surface and dive. I could not stop but imagine what could happen if a kayak got sucked by the swirling water it created. The mother whale made a tight circling formation without surfacing. We can only see the fluke prints it left behind before disappearing in the deep. I totally missed to take its photo. It  was a tense moment while we waited for the mother whale to surface again.

Every one was very quiet, all eyes scanning the water surface looking for any sign of the whale, knowing that it could surface any time soon and most likely while directly below our kayak. Minutes have past when all of a sudden the calf whale surface within 20 feet port side (left) of my kayak and headed behind me.

Once past behind me the whale turned around and headed directly to my starboard side (right). I can see its entire body out of the water as if a torpedo approaching my kayak. I took its picture before it dove down ten feet from me crossing just inches below my kayak. All the while my eyes never blinking following every action the whale makes for safety reasons (my own safety), knowing that the mother whale is just a few feet away from its baby. The baby whale circled my kayak  once more in a counter clockwise direction passing me from behind. Once again the baby whale made a beeline towards the right side of my kayak.  I heard Jimm H coaching me to pose while he takes a shot of the whale next to me. As the whale approached to within 5 feet perpendicular to my kayak without any sign of diving I felt very  unsafe. I used my paddle to nudge the whales nose prompting it to take a dive. As the whale passed below my kayak I felt a bump. I saw the mother whale a few feet from the calf. Immediately after that, I paddled my kayak as fast as I can to get away from the mother whale. My heartbeat racing fearing that should the mother whale make a dive it can easily turn my kayak over with its fluke. The sight of me paddling in semi panic, with the camera and paddle on my hand was a laughing matter for Jimm H and Rick. Thanks to Jimm H for his kind offer to help me clean up my soiled pants (Jimm H and Cabo LTAO).
For those who like whale watching, from now until end of February is a good time to do it. I was able to observe four migrating whales go by in the morning. Some at a distance and others dangerously close.

Be safe,