Gray whales are often seen near Catalina Island

On Catalina Island, like the rest of Southern California, the signs of the seasons are more subtle. For Catalina, one of the most obvious signs of fall is the bustle and busyness of the summer season subsides, replaced by the respite of the offseason. In Avalon Harbor, the pier extension and the swim float disappear, removed for storage until the spring. Humans aren’t the only ones making changing as the seasons changes – Mother Nature’s creatures are also influenced by the time of the year.

Each fall, gray whales begin their migration – the longest in the mammalian world – from food-rich Alaskan seas to the warm waters of Baja California. Like the cruise ships that flock to see them, gray whales summer in Alaska, adding layers of blubber that will see them through the rest of the year. Their winters are spent in Baja, where they mate and give birth. As they migrate between Alaska and Mexico, the whales travel between Catalina Island and the mainland and are often seen by passengers both on Catalina ferries and aboard helicopters transiting the channel. Spotting a gray whale is a dramatic addition to a trip to Catalina Island and is just one more reason to plan an off-season getaway to this Southern California vacation paradise.