Whale Watching at PLNU

Information guides for whale watching at Sunset Cliffs. Photos courtesy of Lainie Alfaro.

The annual great whale migration is taking place from mid-December to mid-April, and students at Point Loma Nazarene University are able to witness it from their own campus.

Professor of biology Andrew Nosal explained the current status of the whale migration.

“At the moment, grey whales are migrating south along our coast to warm, shallow lagoons along the central Baja California peninsula, such as Laguna San Ignacio…We are very lucky to be able to witness this amazing phenomenon in our backyard,” Nosal said.

Nosal clarified that this migration is a part of this species’ mating and reproducing process, as the lagoons that they migrate toward will serve as a winter refuge for the grey whales and their calves. The whales will continue to go south toward Mexico, where they will establish nursing grounds for their young.

Students like Taylor Roberts, fourth-year software engineering major, have witnessed these whales passing by.

“Sometimes I’ll look out in the ocean and then see a whale without even consciously trying to see one. It’s just awesome that at random moments of the day I can pause for five minutes, look out at the water, have some peace, and maybe see a whale or two,” Roberts said. 

PLNU students have the opportunity to watch this great whale migration from spots around campus such as Sunset Deck, water-facing windows in Young Residence Hall, the Young parking lot and on Sunset Cliffs, as mentioned by Roberts. 

Moreover, she said that any location from campus that has a clear view of the ocean is a great spot to look for these whales’ spouts and tails.

Not only does this migration serve as a spectacle available to all students on PLNU’s campus, but it also has an effect on students studying biological processes.

Andrew Kramer, second-year biology major, said that witnessing this natural event made him grateful to be at a coastal school that values life, being “stewards of the earth,” and being able to observe God’s creation around him. To Kramer, the experience was also accentuated as a surfer.

“It’s mind-blowing and eye-opening to see what you’d normally take for granted. You go surfing every day and don’t pay much attention to what’s beneath the surface, but this makes you step out of yourself and take into account all of the life under and around you,” Kramer said.

Roberts and Kramer both noted that being conscious of this phenomenon led them toward greater worship toward God.

“It just leads me toward awe of who God is and how he’s blessed us with seeing his majesty in creation,” Roberts said.

Nosal mentioned, however, that the privilege to see this biological event from campus has only been made possible by deliberate and intentional conservation efforts. If it was not for federal and international anti-whaling legislation, the species would have been pronounced extinct due to overharvesting by humans.

Since these anti-whaling laws were put into effect, “the species have now been considered fully recovered, with a population of at least 27,000 individuals, as of 2016,” Nosal said. “Seeing their spouts now is a reminder that we can indeed make a difference in protecting the environment and the creatures we share this planet with.”

Written By: Malia Carrasco