By Ed Mertz

SAN PEDRO (CBS) — A sharp uptick in the number of whale sightings off the coast of Southern California could make for a very happy new year for whale watchers.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports on a record surge in sightings that has some local researchers spouting off.

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“No, it doesn’t get old,” said Ahna Small of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s Whalewatch program.

Small said although she has seen plenty of whales during her seven years at the aquarium, the number of sightings this season are cause for celebration.

“It’s amazing, we’re doing cartwheels,” she said.

At least 160 whale sightings have been reported in December so far — the largest number in nearly 30 years.

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Last year at this time, only 26 gray whales had been spotted

Blue and gray whales, orcas, and a fin whale have all been spotted along the coastline, according to Whalewatch Coordinator Andrea Piwetz.

While the sightings of themselves are not all that unusual, longtime observers have been stunned by both the early arrival and sheer number of whales that have been spotted.

And while the majestic sea creatures can be seen anytime of day, there is never any guarantee of a sighting.

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“The whales don’t really have a time frame,” said Piwetz.