Blue whales show up early ahead of the Dana Point Festival of Whales in Orange County

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The 42nd Annual Festival of Whales kicks off Saturday  in Dana Point.

The Dana Point Harbor event celebrates the migration of the California Gray Whale as it travels north along the coastline.

Festival co-chair Donna Kalez said it’s likely that’s not all you’ll see.

“We’ve just started to see blue whales and that is like making everybody go crazy because we’ve never seen blue whales this early," she said. "We always see blue whales, probably the first one would be in May. So we don’t know why they’re here, but they decided to show up.”

Kalez said the blue whales are likely munching on an abundance of krill in the offshore waters. In the past, she said she's seen other species including Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Orca Whales and dolphins just outside the harbor.

Kalez said the peak season for migrating whales is December through March, when 40 to 50 whales pass by Dana Point every day. 

Scientists say the whales use the Dana Point Headlands as a navigational point to migrate between Alaska and Mexico.  

"They come out of the water and 'spy-hop' – which is bringing their head out of the water – researchers believe they do this to look around and see where they are," Kalez said. "We also get to see a lot of breaching whales – it lunges its whole body out of the water – but most of the time you're going to see a whale snorkel on the surface."

The Festival of Whales is March 2 and 3 and March 9 and 10. It includes a parade, street fare, walking tours, paddling events and more.

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