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Cleaner waters attract blue whales to Southern California

Biologists say krill are thriving in cleaner waters off the coast of California attracting more blue whales. KNBC's Michelle Valles reports.

Every summer, the majestic blue whale -- the largest mammal that has ever lived -- comes to Southern California, where the Palos Verdes peninsula has become a favorite feeding spot.

Larger than the biggest dinosaur, the endangered species can measure up to 50 feet long – its tongue alone can weigh as much as an African elephant.

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According to Marine biologists, the whales' migration is evidence that clean-up efforts by wildlife activists are working. The whales feed on the krill before they head off to breed.

“The water here is actually cleaner than it’s ever been in the last 30 to 40 years,” said Capt. Dan Salas of the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises. “The krill is coming in tremendous numbers.”

About 2,000 of the estimated 10,000 blue whales worldwide are believed to live in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

On Wednesday, NBC4’s Michelle Valles was a passenger on a three-hour blue whale excursion 10 miles off the coast of Long Beach.

Thirty minutes into the cruise, Capt. Salas yelled: “There she blows! A blue whale!”

The whale watchers were treated to a mother whale and her baby casually playing near the boat.

“The magnificent blue whales just circled our boat. One of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen. It was awesome,” Salas said.

Whale watcher Terry Krasvewski was thrilled.

“To be able to see one in person is remarkable, reminds you of how connected we are. We need to take care of each other. It’s precious,” Krasvewski said.

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