On August 27, 2015 I got to (really gingerly due to back surgery 8 weeks ago!) paddle out and check out the calm waters of Avila Beach. After several weeks being on the 'disabled' list due to a severe bulging disc which resulted in back surgery, I was anxious to see my 'friends'.
This day we not only had a lone humpback whale feeding very close to shore for most of the day but I had the awesome pleasure of checking out our local resident southern sea otter family.
HUMPBACK WHALE STORY (Preview, June 2015)
In 2012, Avila Beach residents and tourists alike were greeted to about four to five humpback whales feeding all throughout the Harbor Area. I have spoken to several long term residents of the Central Coast and many local commercial fishermen and they have never seen this behavior before so close to land before 2012.
We all thought this behavior would never be duplicated but the Humpback Whales proved us all wrong by showing up again June of 2015. I was not going to let this opportunity to elude me this time and it always crushed me when I did not bring my camera gear out to record this behavior in 2012.
This behavior escalated and I counted 15 whales at one time circling me as I took shots and captured some of the most special images of my life as a photographer for over 25 years. I would wait up to 6 hours at a time for them to follow the bait and circle me, never pursuing the Humpbacks, to get my shot.
I have this special technique that I like to think works at getting these whales to 'come to me'. I would put my feet over the edges of my kayak and move my feet in the water in a circular pattern. I have literally watched the whales come directly at me when I did this. Seemed to work for me.
I took many shots in June this year but the one shot I wanted and I envisioned I finally got after waiting for many hours. There were these two who would seem to always be together...sort of working together to feed. My hope was to not have a moored boat in the background and they would come up together near me and I would be able to capture the experience. This is the shot and the single best shot I think I took in the three days I went out to see these creatures.
HUMPBACK WHALE STORY (AUGUST 27, 2015)
So, back to me paddling on August 27, 2015. I was working at the shop with our 'SuperCrew' and the guys all of a sudden got really excited. They then explained that about 50 yards from the shop a lone Humpback Whale just totally came out of the water. Jake, a 19 year old Cal Poly Student from Colorado was floored for he had never seen a whale before in his life.
Everyone told me to go get my camera and it didn't take much convincing. I rushed home got my equipment and promptly got out there. There was only one and it was ACTIVE and FAST. Hard to actually get a decent shot though, but it did feed a few times pretty close to me right in the moored boats. Here is one of the shots.
This just doesn't happen two times in one year around here. Something is changing right now in the ocean. The bait fish in the harbor is thick! Alot of life here.
THE BABY OTTER STORY
Since the whale seemed to be a bit elusive, I moved on to take a few parting shots of our local resident sea otters. These guys hang out right near our (Em and I) shop, Avila Beach Paddlesports and are almost there all the time and I love taking shots of them. I was amazed and shocked to see a little fur ball on one of the females and assumed it was a baby. Really happy to see another one that was born, since there are only approximately 3500 in all of California, I started taking shots.
As I circled around, being very careful not to disturb the raft, I then noticed 'blood' of the end of the female! I kept shooting and upon closer inspection felt like this little baby was probably born only mere hours before these shots.
Avila Beach is not only where we have our kayak and paddleboard shop, but it's really a body of water that Em and I call home. Our friends are here too...all of them. Not only the Humpback Whales and Sea Otters but all the LIFE. Em and I are truly awestruck that we get to call Port San Luis and Avila Beach our 'Community'.
Until next time, enjoy the Gallery below.