All-Day Whale Watch

This is Orange County's ultimate whale-watching trip.

Once a year, the local chapter of the American Cetacean Society hosts a daylong whale-watching cruise around the far side of Santa Catalina Island.

Unlike the usual two-hour cruises where you might not catch sight of a migrating gray whale, passengers on the Cetacean Society trip regularly see several pods and view their more thrilling behaviors, such as breaching, in which a whale throws its body almost completely out of the water.

Farther from the Southern California shore, the whales feel more comfortable playing out their natural behaviors, said Mary Markus, president of the Orange County chapter of the Cetacean Society.

"As they're coming down along the coast, they're dodging boats" she said, "so they don't have time to do much except pay attention to where they're driving."

Last year, passengers saw a single whale breach seven times--a sign of cetacean frustration, Markus said.

Passengers also can expect to see the whales spy-hopping--raising their heads out of the water just enough for an eye to look around--and lob-tailing, or slapping their tails in the water.

Other common sights: dolphins riding alongside the boat, sea lions lolling on a Catalina beach, bison grazing the hills, even an occasional bald eagle perched on the cliffs above the ocean.

Cetacean Society and Catalina Island Conservancy members provide expert narrative.

The cruise takes place on the Catalina Flyer giant catamaran out of Balboa Peninsula, its use donated for the day by Bob Black, owner of Catalina Passenger Service.

This year's trip will be Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with an hour's stop to roam in Avalon.

Cost for the fund-raiser is $40 for adults, $20 for children. Bring lunch, binoculars and a hat to 400 Main St., Balboa Peninsula. And, if you think you might need it, be sure to take a seasickness remedy a half-hour before boarding, Markus advises.

Reservations: (714) 675-9881.

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