Winter whale watch trips departing from Ventura Harbor are available now through mid-April, providing an opportunity to view Pacific gray whales migrating through the Santa Barbara Channel from their feeding grounds in Alaska to their breeding grounds in Baja.
Pacific gray whales are normally sighted in the Santa Barbara Channel near Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands, and whale watching excursions to witness the whales are offered by Island Packers, a family-owned operation founded in 1969, and the official concessionaire to the Channel Island National Parks.
This year, the migrating gray whales are now traversing the newly designated Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area.
Honored with this designation this past October because of responsible tourism and conservation initiatives to protect the diversity and abundance of whales, dolphins and porpoises, the SBCWHA is one of only 10 whale heritage areas found around the world.
Sightings of the southern migration typically begins in December for Pacific gray whales, and visitors can witness humpback whales, fin whales and occasionally orcas. Common dolphin are found year-round, delighting passengers as they frolic with the boat, and ride the bow and stern waves.
Winter whale watch excursions are available through mid-April from Ventura and/or Channel Islands Harbor, departing at 9:30 a.m. and/or 1:30 p.m. Rates for half-day trips are $45 for adults, $41 for seniors, and $32 for children 3-12. Children 2 years old and younger ride free.
All-day trips to Anacapa, Prisoners Harbor (mid-Santa Cruz), and Scorpion Anchorage (East Santa Cruz) are also available year-round. Island Packers anticipates resuming travel to Santa Rosa Island in the middle of February or early March. All-day trips range from $66 to $89 per adult. Camping is also available for an additional fee.
For more information, visit www.Island Packers.com.