Blue Whales and Dolphins Thrill Guests on Island Packers’ Summer Whale Watching Tour

Image by Bob Forbes

by Janie Tran

With warmer weather and the sun finally shining, it’s the perfect time for a summer whale-watching expedition. Island Packers’ Summer Whale Watching season spans from June through September, coinciding with ocean upwelling that brings abundant plankton for these majestic creatures.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2024, our whale-watching adventure included encounters with California sea lions, sunfish, and at least four blue whales. One particularly striking whale could easily be mistaken for Uno, a well-known whale identifiable by its missing half tail. Unlike Uno, which lacks the right side of its tail, the whale we saw had the left half missing. In good humor, the crew suggested naming this second whale “Duo,” continuing the theme of tail variations. Blue whales in the Channel Islands channels displayed their flukes approximately every six minutes before diving into the depths.

Our experience was enriched by sightings of two types of dolphins: over 500 common dolphins and more than 50 offshore bottlenose dolphins, both year-round residents of the Santa Barbara Channels. For daily updates on these magnificent creatures, visit

Leading our excursion were Holly Lohuis, a marine biologist, conservationist, and educator with over 30 years of experience, alongside crew member Tina Samson and Captain Jason Wendel. Lohuis is renowned for her passionate advocacy for ocean conservation and emphasized the emotional connection to nature felt by guests and children on these outings, inspiring future conservation efforts.

Education and conservation are paramount. It’s awe-inspiring to be guided by these beautiful creatures to the Channel Islands, and Island Packers provides an ideal opportunity to witness these majestic animals in our own backyard. This area of sightings is recognized as the 9th whale heritage area in the world under WCA and the first wildlife area as the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area.

Camilla Zoida, an Oxnard resident, summed up her experience in three words: “Magical. Breathtakingly magical.” Lori Jacques, a Ventura resident, believes “Everyone should experience what’s right in their backyard and enjoy nature aboard Island Packers. It’s so good for the soul.”

Image by Janie Tran
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