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Pacific Gray Whale Season in California
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Pacific Gray Whale Season in California
  California Travel Event ( Press Release )

whale1-210.jpg California. December 4, 2001: The enormity and the fascination of the Pacific Gray Whale surfaces during Whale Watching Season taking place in Oxnard December 26 through mid April.

Visitors can leave directly from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard on an excursion through the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Both Island Packers, Ventura County's official concessionaire, and Cisco's Sportfishing offer daily excursions to see the magnificent mammals as they migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel.

whale2-210.jpg Besides whales, passengers will also catch views of seals, sea lions, dolphins, birds and other varieties of marine life while making the ecological interaction along the way.

Half-day, non-landing narrated whale watching trips are provided by Island Packers and Cisco's twice daily - at 9 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Cisco's fares are $24 for adults, $21 for seniors (55 plus), $16 for children 3 to 12 years of age and free for children two and under. A straight rate of $21 is available for groups of 25 on Saturdays and Sunday departures. Clubs and organizations are charged $19 per person Monday through Friday and school groups are $13 for 25 or more Monday through Friday. For more information and reservations, call Cisco's at 805/985-8511.

Island Packers fares are $24 for adults and $16 for children. Whale watching is also included as part of all the regular day trips during the season provided by Island Packers. For more information, contact Island Packers at 805/642-1393.

Every year, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Gray Whales migrate through the Santa Barbara on their way to and from the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. The pregnant females lead the southern migration, passing by the Channel Islands in late December and early January. The mature males and nonpregnant females follow the females. The juvenile whales are the last to head south, usually in February.

The average length of a Gray Whale male is 11m (36 ft), maximum 15m (50 ft). Females are 12 m (39 ft), maximum 15 m (50 ft). Average weight for males is 26 metric tons, and females are 31 metric tons with the maximum for the species at 34 metric tons. One of the few whales that lack a dorsal fin, the Gray Whale is a dark charcoal color at birth, but eventually turns a mottled gray due to the large number of barnacles and lice on their bodies.

During whale watching season, Channel Islands Harbor holds its annual Celebration of the Whales January through March, an eight-week schedule of activities and daily whale watching excursions. The weekend of March 2-3 is designated as Celebration of the Whales Festival offering many fun and exciting venues harborwide for all ages to enjoy. For more information, call the Channel Islands Harbor Visitors Center at 805/985-4852.

Several of Oxnard's hotels offer Whale Watching packages including the Casa Sirena at 805/985- 6311; the Channel Islands Inn & Suites, 805/487-7755; and the Embassy Suites Resort at 805/984-2500. Oxnard visitor information can be obtained by the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-269-6273. Visit the Bureau's website at www.oxnardtourism.com.

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