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Gray whale sightings off Southern California coast at record level

Friday, January 03, 2014

Right now is the best time to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California as they migrate south. Within the last few months, the whales have been spotted in record numbers.

We went out on a whale watching trip. A few miles of the coast of Palos Verdes Peninsula, we saw gray whales. With Dan "The Whale Man" Salas at the helm of his ship dubbed "Christopher," about 140 paying customers on board got their money's worth.

"We've seen them on TV and we've walked around Palos Verdes and seen them from the cliffs and we wanted to see them up close. They were just magnificent," said Korey House of Redondo Beach.

Salas, the owner of Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach, says this is one of the best times of the year to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California. He says the whales are migrating south for the winter.

"For the month of December, we had well over 300 whales sighted right off of Palos Verdes. And that's a 30-year record," said Salas.

In the 1970s, gray whales were put on the endangered species list because overfishing of the whales nearly left them extinct. They have since rebounded to healthy numbers.

Salas says there has been an unusually high number of sightings of other whales lately. On New Year's Day, Salas says he saw a pod of six killer whales in the bay.

In December, they spotted a rare sighting of a sperm whale. Salas says sighting like that were impossible when the bay was among the most polluted bodies of water in the U.S.

"The water is getting much cleaner. There's a lot more food here right off of Los Angeles. The whales are taking advantage of it," said Salas.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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