It was kind of off season for sightings but we went out anyway. June of 1990 off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA, we headed out to the Channel Islands.
We saw plenty of porpoise and sealions. Anchoring near the island, we took turns on a skiff to enter a sealion cave. A diver went down to collect some sea life while a marine biologist offered a Q&A session on marine life. It was on the return, the marine biologist stated firmly that it was not likely we would see any whales … just as he spoke the words the captain gets his attention and states that something big passed under the boat and apparently it had taken an interest in us and had turned back around!
We went silent and began scanning the horizon to the south. I stated to the marine biologist that I hoped it would spy hop and as if on command a whale breached the surface and checked us out. The marine biologist identified it as a Minke and told me it was pretty rare to see them. Excitedly I wished out loud that it would breach so I could see it better. He laughed and said the show was more than likely over, but no sooner the words and laughter died out as the Minke breached. Meanwhile I was taking photos, the biologist was beside himself and asked that I send him copies and then asked me if I had anymore requests of the whale! A footprint?
The captain announced it was moving away, the marine biologist said ‘tough luck,’ but we waited a while, and to our delight, although off in the distance, as if waving goodbye, the Minke lifted its tail and slapped down. On that note, the marine biologist asked if I was available for future tours. He said he had never seen a display like that, especially from a Minke and he thought me some good luck charm.
The photos came out well and I sent them to the Marine Biologist. I moved soon after that so never attended another tour there at least. Lots of activity in later years up in Santa Cruz, but never again a Minke Whale.