Atlantis-lowres This new painting's story is a little long and windy. Allow me to explain:

Only 6 miles or so off the cost of Monterey, California, a great deal of whales travels past more or less all year. Grey Whales and Humpback Whales travel to Baja Mexico for mating. Orcas travel along for hunting, while some Orcas even became resident in Monterey bay, feeding on seals and the occasional whale calf.

Oh, and there are Blue Whales, too. A great number of them. They weren't known to be traveling through that stretch or water until not long ago, or they changed their routes in the early eighties, but they now come along every mid summer. I haven't had luck with spotting a Blue Whale myself yet, but I have been out watching for whales a couple of times. The Whale Watching company of choice has marine biologists on board, and they tell me how elusive those big animals are:

Scientists have tried tagging Blue Whales will all kinds of high-tech and low-tech gizmos and contraptions, yet have still to find out where the whales go, and where they mate.

I can't help feeling smug about this. I don't understand why we cannot accept not to understand something. Some things should just be left in peace and on their own devices.

Take, for example, the finding of an ancient tomb. Scientists will be hugely disappointed and frustrated to find that it has been opened and raided two centuries ago, and will be delighted if not – only then to proceed raiding the previously untouched tomb. All in the name of science of course.

So anyway, those biologists tell me that one could try to renegotiate international shipping routes, for example, if those were found crossing the Blue Whales' routes or mating grounds. I don't know. Since hunting stopped, the animals are recovering. I am sure they'd be most happy to be left in peace.

Not through scientific instruments, but by sheer contemplation, however, I have now successfully determined the location of the Blue Whale's mating grounds: They go to that other place that we have so far failed to find.


Oil on canvas, 20×30", November 2008.

I hope you like it. You can click here, or the thumbnail, for a larger version.

Wildlife Statement of Account

We had a good view on wildlife during our recent trip through the some of central California, but focussed on watching with our own eyes rather than the photo lens – which is nice while watching the animals, but actually regrettable when back home.

From memory, here’s the breakdown:

Wild turkeys, turkey vultures, newts, lizards and deer in Henry Coe and Castle Rock State Parks.

Seals, sea lions, sea otters, pelicans and humpback whales in Monterey and the Monterey Bay.

An assortment of fresh and salt water fish as well as land and sea birds everywhere, and of course the works in the Monterey Aquarium. Not bad for a few days, ey?

Whale Watching

HumpbacksI got up at 6 am this Sunday and, once again, drove down CA 1 (Pacifica) to Monterey for a bit of whale watching with Monterey Bay Whale Watch. There is an abundance of life in the Monterey Bay; here’s a nice photo summary for those interested (scroll down for photos).

I like this company, because they don’t advertise with the horrors of dangerous sharks and killer whales. Instead, they have a marine biologist on board with each and every trip, and one can just spend the entire 5 hours asking questions.

In the Monterey Bay area, they have Gray Whales, Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Sea Lions, and Otters as regulars.

The greatest mystery of all is a around the Blue Whales. I have yet to see one myself (failed again this time), but it amazes me how these huge big animals succeed to escape science so successfully: even when tagged with modern high-tech gadgets, they seem to shrug-off the transmitters pretty quickly and disappear from the screens. Literally. Scientists still don’t know where they travel to, or where they mate. They are desperate to find out, and claim this is important information to help protecting them.

I am not so sure. Given that there once was an estimate population of 200,000, which is now down to 10,000 thanks to mankind, it might be best for the whales if we don’t know.

P.S. On our 5-hour trip, we saw about 20 Humpback Whales, 4 Killer Whales, a Californian Sunfish, about 250 Dolphins of different species, and plenty of Sea Lions in the deep water. No Blue Whales, but a sun burn instead. Not bad at all!