Thar she blows! The majestic gray whales have returned, cruising past the Ventura County coast on their way to ancient whale mating grounds. Island Packers have begun their annual whale-watching excursions, launching out of Channel Islands Harbor and Ventura Harbor, now through the end of summer.

Peepers can expect to catch a glimpse of blue, fin, humpback, orcas and up to 25 more species, including dolphins and the wayward jellyfish, as they feed in the waters off the Channel Islands. In early June, Island Packers captains reported one fin whale, two blue whales and 577 common dolphins on an excursion.

The whale watching schedule runs through September. 

For more information on tour operators, including Island Packers, visit www.channelislandswhalewatching.com and www.islandpackers.com.