Students from Animo Ralph Bunche Charter High & Stephen M. White Middle Schools see a whale off the bow of the Spirit Cruise ship.

This year Angeles ICO worked with partners to provide whale watching cruises for urban students. Three cruises took place during February and early March bringing students from: Abbot Elementary, Animo Ralph Bunche Charter High, Stephen M. White Middle, STEM of Hollywood and Maywood Academy schools.

Angeles ICO participants board Spirit Cruises boat for Whale Watching on a beautiful sunny day.

Students and leaders made their way to the dock via bus, carpool and some even used the Metro to show students how to use public transportation to reach their adventure destinations. Naturalists from Cabrillo Marine Institute met ICO participants on the dock to give a presentation about the size and migratory habits of whales we might see. Students learned about Gray and Humpback whales as they are most common this time of year.

Cabrillo Marine Institute Naturalist in red coat looking for whales with students ready to record video.

I was able to participate in the 2nd whale watching outing. Boarding the boat, students explored the top deck and crowded along the bow, eager to set off. Most of these children had never been on a boat before, and getting their sea legs was a funny process. Angeles ICO Leaders and teachers reminded students to hold onto hand rails. Students saw many unique vessels on the way out of the harbor and waved to other people on the water. Spirit Cruises employees pointed out Port landmarks and a container ship for container ships.

Cruising out of the Long Beach Harbor, past historic and modern vessels.

The captain explained that whales do not usually jump out of the water and students should look for a slight mist, the blow. On this particular cruise, it took us a while but the captain finally spotted a whale far out in the channel. The students were extremely excited and rushed to the rails, peering about to catch the whale’s next surfacing. After some careful shortening of the distance, the Spirit Cruises boat was able to bring us closer to get a good view of the fin as the whale continued on its way. Conferring with the captain, the naturalists determined our whale must be a Minke whale due to its fin and behavior.

High school students enjoying the experience.

Surveying the participants after the cruise, many were excited to have seen their first whale and said they would definitely do this trip again. It was great to be able to show students and families how to use the Metro to access this whale watching activity. Angeles ICO looks forward to hearing more about what students, teachers and parents thought of this new type of Outing.