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HORNBLOWER CRUISES & EVENTS AND SAN DIEGO NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM REPORT IMPRESSIVE WHALE SIGHTINGS

February 6, 2012

Guests spot nearly 200 whales and other marine wildlife off the San Diego shoreline

San Diego – Just two months into the 2011-2012 whale watching season, guests have spotted more than 180 gray whales on Hornblower Cruises & Events’ Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures. The Hornblower Captain’s Log, details sightings and stories from the daily cruises, and additional up-to-the-minute information is available at www.twitter.com/HornblowerSD.

This season, guests have seen gray whale mothers traveling with calves as well as other whales traveling alone and in groups. Displays of breaching and blowing spouts in the distance are common; in addition, passengers have watched whales mating, spyhopping and showing off their tail flukes as they begin diving. While traveling to San Diego Bay’s prime whale watching locations, guests have also seen Minke and humpback whales, bottlenose and white-sided dolphins, sea lions, cormorants, seagulls and thousands of common dolphins diving, leaping in the air and swimming by the boats.

Joining Hornblower’s experienced captains on each outing are trained naturalists from The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). Guides from theNAT have been involved in local whale watching adventures for nearly five decades. Members of its prestigious Museum Whaler Program participate in an extensive 10-week training program before sharing their knowledge with cruises passengers. The partnership between Hornblower and theNAT makes for an unsurpassed guest experience.

“We are off to an exceptional start for whale watching this season. Our passengers have witnessed not only record numbers of wildlife, but also some amazing animal behaviors,” said Rebecca Milkey, director of marketing for Hornblower Cruises & Events. “This is our seventh season partnering with the San Diego Natural History Museum Whalers. We are thrilled to continue offering this incredible wildlife experience to the public. The Whalers’ education and enthusiasm, combined with our experienced captains and comfortable boats, offers the best possible wildlife adventures to all of our guests.”

Gray whales have the longest known migration of any mammal, traveling 10,000 to 12,000 miles round trip every year from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to Mexico. The Eastern Pacific Gray Whale (eschrichtius robustus) has an average size of 30 to 50 feet, weighs up to 35 tons, and has flukes that can span up to ten feet. During the 19th century, about 1,000 gray whales passed San Diego each day during their southern migration. Uncontrolled hunting then led to the near extinction of these whales, which were added to the endangered species list in 1970. Today, the population has bounced back to somewhere between 24,000 and 26,000 whales.

 Times and Tickets

Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $17.50 (weekday) or $20 (Saturday-Sunday) for children ages 4-12, and $35 (weekday) or $40 (Saturday-Sunday) for adults. Seniors and military members are $33 (weekday) or $38 (Saturday-Sunday); children ages 3 and under are free. Groups of 20 or more can arrange outings at a discount. Snacks are available for purchase and all vessels offer comfortable indoor and outdoor seating.

To purchase tickets and gift certificates, call 619-686-8715, visit www.hornblower.com or stop by the Hornblower ticket booth at 1066 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, Calif., 92101. Special discounted tickets are also available at www.hornblower.com. Advanced purchase is recommended to secure specific dates and times.

To learn more about Hornblower’s daily tours, private charters and special event cruises, visit www.hornblower.com or call 800-ON-THE-BAY.

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Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the leading charter yacht and public dining cruise company in California for over 30 years. The company operates 32 vessels in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Marina del Rey and San Diego. The 1000-passenger Inspiration Hornblower is one of San Diego’s premier venues. In addition, Hornblower San Diego offers seasonal Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures and year-round Harbor Cruises. For more information, visit www.hornblower.com/pressroom.

The San Diego Natural History Museum, established in 1874, is committed to research, education and exhibitions about the natural world, with a focus on the Southern California, Baja California region; through the Museum’s work it hopes to inspire in all a respect for the environment. Learn more at www.sdnhm.org.