There are signs that the largest creature on Earth is making a come back off the coast of California.
Researchers say the blue whale seems to be making a slow recovery from near extinction after decades of hunting. That reduced the world population from 400- thousand to around 10-thousand.
More than 20 years after the worldwide ban on hunting was introduced, U-S researchers are now trying to quantify the return of the Big Blue to the Golden State.
They can weigh up to 180 tonnes and have hearts the size of a small Volkswagen car.
After decades of whaling, the Blue disappeared from Californian waters.
Many scientists predicted that the blue whales' (m) millions of years on Earth would end before the start of the twenty-first century.
But finally, there is hope.
Whereas five years ago there were only rare sightings, now they are congregating off Santa Barbara in numbers previously unheard of.
"Their population is continuing to grow and I do not think they have reached their limit and it seems there is a lot more food than there is whales."
SUPERCAPTION: Bob Pittman, Marine Biologist for National Marine and Fish Service
Researchers off Santa Barbara have found an abundant supply of krill, the tiny shrimp like creatures, that blue whales feed on.
Tags have temporarily been put on whales to study their feeding patterns.
Researchers have also discovered that the mammals can dive to depths of up to 200 metres (600 feet).
Boat loads of tourists are now being allowed into the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary to see one of nature's most amazing creatures.
Among them are tourists from Japan, where whale meat is still considered a delicacy even though it is illegal.
"The whale was very beautiful and I cannot believe Japanese people are still whaling. I felt a little bit guilty, even though I do not eat whale. People have been asking me all day 'what do you think about it?' I think my country should not kill them"
SUPERCAPTION: Sayka Adachi, Japanese Tourist
"When you see a blue whale you join an elite club. They are so endangered that when you see one you join small group of people in the world that have seen living blue whale."
SUPERCAPTION: Ed Cassano, Manager Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary
Strict laws are in place in an attempt to prevent the tourist boats from harassing the whales.
Researchers say people in boats are no longer the greatest threat to the blue whale.
Even though the numbers seem to be increasing, a few scientists fear this may be a forced concentration.
The believe they could be gathering here because the supply of krill is disappearing from other waters due to pollution and global warming of waters.
"Any threat towards the habitat or krill population themselves would be the greatest threat to theses animals and, coincidentally, threaten many other species that feed on creatures that feed on the krill or the krill itself."
SUPERCAPTION: Ed Cassano, Manager, Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary
For years the dolphins off Santa Barbara and the sea lions that invade boats had been the stars of a sea trip.
But now they have become the side show to a much bigger act making a return performance in the blue waters off California.