Spy hopping is when a whale pokes its head out of the ocean and appears to take a good look around. Ron LeValley photographed several Gray Whales doing just that.
In the photo below you can see the Gray Whale's eye just above the water line if you look closely.
The other theory regarding spy hopping is that the whale is listening for the wave break so it can best align itself on its long migration.
I was on the bluffs at the southern end of The Sea Ranch on a wildflower hike several years ago. There were six of us, including my husband, Rick. I happened to glance out at the ocean and saw a Gray Whale spy hop. I almost couldn't believe what I saw. No one else saw it and when I looked again it was gone. A sweet memory for me.
Lucky for us all that Ron had his camera at the ready. I thank him for allowing me to share his photos with you here. To see much more of Ron's photography, here is his website: http://www.levalleyphoto.com/home/