We got a glimpse of a couple in the Santa Monica Bay 2 weeks ago. They're majestic creatures. That pod off the coast of Palos Verdes was apparently the largest on record, as the OP states. I was returning to the harbor under sail alone when the whale broke the surface heading right at us. Moving at about 1 knot there wasn't anything I could do, it's really up to the whale how close we're both going to get. But of course, behind the whale were about a dozen paddleboarders and kayakers chasing it out into the ocean. Following them were a couple sailboats just motoring.
It's a shame some people really do harass them like that. Animals don't have a clue what we are and what we are doing. As spectators to an animal simply breathing and traveling, people should leave it alone. I totally understand how "awesome it feels" to be so close to it,and how "epic it is" but really, it's an unpredictable, huge, marine animal.
During this season you see the flyers at boat store counters displaying the safe viewing radius around sea animals - I'm sure almost all SailNet-ers know the rules already, so maybe we can just spread the word to tourists/rental boats, too.
Never for a second did I think "I haven't had enough of seeing this whale take a breath, I gotta go chase it so I can see it one more time" It was more like "I draw 5'6" deep right? It's going that way? Okay, okay good."
1985 Catalina 30 Std Rig "A Cenoura"