SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It's the start of whale watching season in San Diego and CBS News 8 has a unique look at this year's gray whale migration.
We went up in the air to give you a seagull's view of the massive creatures heading south.
It's a view very few people will ever get to see. The big blue from above, compliments of SciFly pilot Eddie Kisfaludy. And this time of year he's got some company.
"The ocean is the last great wilderness left on our planet," said Kisfaludy. "It's a really special experience and opportunity to see these animals from the air, most of the time you're only able to see them from the cliffs along the shoreline."
Sheri Knox, senior analyst with the Birch Aquarium, says the grey whales spend half their lives up in the Arctic where they feed and when it freezes over, they head 5000 miles south - all the way down to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico. Your best bet is to see them on a boat, but if you're just watching from the shore, look for the spouts.
"You're most likely to see the spouts of a grey whale that are about 10 feet tall. And we like to say they're heart shaped because they come out in a V out of their blow holes so it looks like a heart," explained Knox.
She says the view Kisfaludy gave us is unique because you can see just how big the whales are. And this time of the year many females are even larger because they're pregnant. A grown whale can weigh up to 45,000 pounds.
"They're about the size of a school bus and the babies, when they're born, they're about 15 feet long and about 1500 pounds," continued Knox.
Kisfaludy says the sightings are near and far:
"The grey whales that we're seeing off of San Diego can be anywhere from a few miles out all the way into the surf zone. And it would be common to see a grey whale right next to a surfer as your flying south."
But even when he's out further than that, for the next few months, he won't be alone.
"To be out there, many miles off shore, in a small airplane it's just you the airplane and the ocean and when you see the wildlife below you it's a comforting feeling to know you're not completely alone out there," said Kisfaludy.
Now unless you have some kind of connection there's really no plane service that does whale watching. You can either trying to spot them off shore, or you could take one of the Birch Aquarium's guided boat tours.