01-15-2017: Humpbacks Still Feeding in front of Moss Landing, Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Gray Whales and More
[caption id="attachment_2732" align="aligncenter" width="950"] "Porpoising" long-beaked common dolphins. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017[/caption] Another epic day on the bay. It looks like we could have winter feeding humpbacks this year. There were at least 8 out in front of Moss Landing today. [caption id="attachment_2733" align="aligncenter" width="950"] More long-beaked common dolphins. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.[/caption] There were also some straggler gray whales passing through. The real action came from the common dolphins. We had 500+ running with along side, behind and in front of us as we moved through the water. Check out the video below: Monterey Bay Long-beaked common dolphins They often like to use the energy of our boat moving through the wate and the wake that it creates as they continually leap all around the boat while they move through the water at a high rate of speed. It's awesome to watch. [caption id="attachment_2735" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Monterey Bay Humpback Whales still feeding in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2736" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Moss Landing Great Blue Heron[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2737" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Monterey Bay common dolphins. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2738" align="aligncenter" width="950"] We had great looks at humpback whales. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.[/caption]
01-14-2016: Humpbacks, mating gray whales, common dolphins, Pacific White-sided dolphins excellent conditions and more.
Incredible day on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Sunny conditions and calm seas. Doesn't get much better for Winter whale watching.
We came across some common dolphins right outside the harbor. Then we had great looks at a young humpback 20-minutes out the gate. After about 15 minutes we decided to head out further and see what else we could see.
That's when we noticed some splashing about a mile from our position. It turned out to be three mating gray whales and about 15 Pacific white-sided dolphins.
It was quite a display of nature. We were with them for almost an hour.
1-11-17 Stormy Conditions kept us in port, but seas are calming now
[caption id="attachment_2114" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Moss Landing humpback whale doing a fluke up dive. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-19-2015[/caption]We have not been able to venture out into the bay this year yet, due to stormy seas. We know the gray whales are in full force on their southbound migration through outer Monterey Bay and hope the handful of humpbacks feeding a few miles from Moss Landing harbor are still around. Let's go find out! Some of our most magical trips have been on calm January days. We are running trips Friday through Monday in January.
12-15-2016 Humpback Whales and Common Dolphins feeding 3 miles from Moss Landing
The weekend forecast looks calm and clear, and the whales are still here feeding. Conditions were lovely on Wednesday and there were scattered humpbacks feeding within a few short miles of Moss Landing, as well as Common Dolphins. Sunday we had an extended observation of Risso's Dolphins all around the boat and some really nice viewing of humpback whales.
12-04-2016: 20+ Humpback Whales Feeding Close to Moss Landing Harbor, 300+ Common Dolphins
We've been having some of the best trips of the year over the last couple of weeks. The marine conditions and weather. We've also had some great light for photographs. It's a great time to get out and get some amazing photographs. Not only have we excellent lighting, we've also had some very light passengers loads. So if you want a little elbow room, get out there now while the last humpback whale feast before they head south for the winter is on. There seems to be about 20 humpbacks sticking around just a few miles from the Moss Landing Harbor. We've also been seeing large numbers of Long-beaked common dolphins.
All the Monterey boats have been coming over the the Moss Landing area to see the humpbacks. All the humpbacks are hanging near Moss Landing lately. Who knows, this may be another year where some of the humpbacks stay in the Monterey Bay instead of migrating to their breeding and calving grounds in Southern Mexico.
It's somewhat unusual to have this many humpbacks still going strong feeding at this time of year. So who knows? Stay tuned and we'll keep you updated. Photos: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 12-03-2016.
11-21-2016: Humpbacks Feeding with Sea Lions, Long-beaked Common Dolphins
Conditions have been gorgeous on the water. Crisp and cool with sunshine, clear blue skies and beautiful puffy white clouds in the background. We have had some windy spells in between excellent Fall conditions, with long period swells and foggy mornings. The long period swells don't affect us much out on the water. But they sure make for great surf as the swells make their way to the shoreline.
Out front, we've had humpback whales feeding with sea lions, flocks of loons, cormorants, shearwaters, gulls, and phalaropes nearby. We've also been seeing playful groups of 300-400 long-beaked common dolphins regularly.
11-12-2016 Gorgeous Conditions, Non-stop surface Lunge-feeding Humpbacks close to Moss Landing plus Dolphins!
Besides all the birds and humpbacks feeding in front of Moss (at least six or seven whales lunging up for a few hours on end), we also had a group of several hundred long-beaked common dolphins feeding about five miles out. Probably anchovies, but we couldn't be sure. Whatever they were eating was in a thick layer at least 30 ft down. A few of them took a break from their feast to bow-ride with us. Commons are so fun to photograph! An absolutely gorgeous day on the water. Photo: Vicky Stein.
11-11-2016 Humpbacks are surface lunge feeding in front of Moss Landing now
This was our biologist Vicky Stein's photo from today, which was a good day but tough for photography. Lots of great lunges, though, and absolute bird chaos. We had pelicans, terns, gulls (Bonaparte's, Heerman's, westerns), murres, cormorants, and parasitic jaegers all over the place. This is an indication of the abundance of small schooling fish that both the birds and the whales are feeding on. There were a few different clusters of whales, mostly groups of three vertically lunge-feeding, and not too far out of Moss Landing harbor either! Conditions have been quite nice out on the bay this week and the whales are closer to Moss Landing, as this photo shows.
10-29-2016: Humpback Feeding Frenzy at Moss with Dolphins & Sea Lions
Though our trip today began with a light drizzle, before long the skies cleared up and we spotted our first humpback whales, only two miles outside Moss Landing Harbor. We hopscotched from those three whales out to a large group of Risso's dolphins (probably more than 200) that were breaching and socializing around us, before moving on toward a flock of birds and a series of splashes. We discovered a huge group (500+) of feeding common dolphins, which haven't spent much time around Moss for the past few months! Just beyond the dolphins was a growing group of humpbacks, lunging up out of the water to scoop up gigantic mouthfuls of anchovies. Photos: Vicky Stein
10-18-16 Cetacean Invasion! Humpbacks and Dolphins show up in big numbers.
At least 15 humpback whales and several hundred Pacific White-sided Dolphins showed up today being very active in the Pajaro Hole, a branch of the canyon about six miles NW of Moss Landing. We had a breach, tail lobbing and some vertical surface lunge feeds today and lots of surfacings and tail flukes. It was approaching a frenzy state with many sea lions, lots of birds, so many dolphins and whales all circling a wide area that was abundant with fish. The viewing was excellent, with sunny conditions and a long period swell.
09-16-2016: More Killer Whale Action in Front of Moss, Humpback Whales and Risso's Dolphins
We are definitely settling into our Fall weather pattern. Warm and sunny with calm, smooth ocean conditions. All day long. And then there are animals. They seem to be coming closer to Moss Landing. At least that was the case this week. Including killer whales on several trips.
The humpbacks have still been scattered. But there have been a handful within a few miles of Moss Landing on some trips. Other trips they've been a little further out.
We have been seeing some occasional humpback surface lunging on anchovies. But the anchovies have also been scattered and not very dense. It's nice to be out there photographing when it's so calm. We'll probably be doing some photo-tours coming up soon.
The mighty Peregrine under full sail. Join us for a sail sometime. We are now offering sailing tours. Only six passengers at a time. Silently gliding along in comfort. It's a whole different experience. Call Captain Mike at (831) 239-5504 to book a trip or for more information. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 09-15-2016
Let's go sailing! We're now offering naturalist led sailing tours aboard our luxury sailboat. She's a 48' Mariner ketch. She is a well-founded and well-equipped world cruising sailboat. Ask about our "Follow the Migration" tours coming up in October. This tour will take you on a multi-day journey departing from the Moss Landing Harbor to Santa Cruz Island off of Santa Barbara. Then to Santa Barbara for a relaxing coastal train ride back up to the Salinas train station and then ground transportation back to Moss Landing. This is tour is for the serious marine life adventurer. Also offering weekend tours from Channel Islands Harbor to Santa Cruz Island. Or just book a two hour tour out of Moss Landing.
09-15-16 Orcas hunting right outside Moss Landing Harbor today
These past two days have been magical out here on Monterey Bay for wildlife sightings. Yesterday we had hundreds of active Risso's Dolphins surrounding the boat for most of the trip, humpback whales and a lone male Orca cruising along on calm, still waters with sunshine. Today we found a few humpbacks within a couple miles of Moss Landing, and then spotted a whole pod of Orcas hunting. They led us right back to Moss Landing where they hunting about for hours, giving really nice viewing and a close swim by to finish the day. The humpback breaching next to the boat really made a grand finale to an awesome day of sunshine and whales aboard Sanctuary Cruises!
09-11-2016: Humpbacks Starting to Move Closer to Moss Landing, Anchovies Start to Show Up
Orcas on the prowl. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 09-06-2016. We're well into our Fall weather pattern. The conditions have been generally good. We've still been having some overcast days, so that's not so great. But the marine conditions have been calm and great for getting out on The Bay. So that's always nice.
We've also had great orca sightings over the last week or so. The humpbacks have been going strong. There have also been blue whales and fin whales further out.
More anchovies have showed up just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. I've been seeing a lot of surface feeding action going on just outside off the beach. Birds, sea lions, harbor seals.
So hopefully the humpbacks will join in on the action as we get more into the Fall season.
07-13-2016: Fat Fin the Killer Whale Spotted Again, Two Humpback Whales and Rough Conditions
The marine weather conditions continue to be unstable as we head into Summer. What I would consider more of a normal weather pattern than we have seen in the Monterey Bay over the last few years. We've had manageable, decent conditions in the mornings with rough windy conditions in the afternoon. We've been able to sneak a few afternoon trips in, but it's been a challenge. While it's not the greatest for whale watching, it's essential to the productivity our there. We're thinking we could have epic late Summer and Fall action. As with the entire Pacific Coast, in late Summer and Fall we usually have incredible weather conditions with warm and glassy sunsets and feeding humpbacks all day long. They seem to have their last feast before heading south to the waters off of Southern Mexico and even as far south as Costa Rica. They know they won't be eating much for a few months after they leave our productive California waters. So it is essential that they build up as much of a blubber layer they can before they start their migration. Most of the population we see along the California Coast will start their southbound migration in November and December. There always seems to be a few stragglers that will stay into January.
07-07-2016: More Killer Whales Show Up, Humpbacks Close to Moss Landing
The action continued today on our 09:00 AM trip. We came across a few humpbacks in the first 30 minutes. So that was nice. We had some nice tail fluke looks before we heard a report of orcas about five miles from our location. So we made a course and we're on the scene within about 45 minutes. We pretty well stuck with these animals for the rest of the trip.
At one point we had all seven killer whales do a swim by about three feet off our port side. It's incredible to see these animals so close in the wild. They seemed to be looking at us as they swam by. Amazing encounter.
07-06-2016: Summer Action Heats up Two Miles Outside of Moss Landing
A [caption id="attachment_2585" align="aligncenter" width="950"] This was one of two humpback whales that were repeatedly breaching. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016.[/caption] It's been hit or miss over the last few weeks. We've also been hit by strong afternoon winds. So we've had to cancel a lot of afternoon trips. But it looks like all the wind and upwelling is starting to pay off. After a slow start to the late Spring and early Summer, the action really kicked into overdrive today. [caption id="attachment_2587" align="aligncenter" width="950"] We call this a chin slap. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016[/caption] I've mainly been working on the sailboat over the last few weeks, so I haven't been getting out as much. We've had captain JJ running. So I haven't been able to update the Captain's Log for awhile. But I'm back now and plan on updating daily. [caption id="attachment_2588" align="aligncenter" width="950"] These common dolphins were out of there as soon as they realized there was an orca around. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycryuises.com 07-06-2016[/caption] Excellent day today. We were on long-beaked common dolphins within about 10-15 minutes. Conditions were nice early on. That's why we've pushed most of our 10:30 AM trips up to 09:00 AM. It gives us a better calm weather window to get out further if we need to. Because lately, we've needed to. [caption id="attachment_2589" align="aligncenter" width="950"] "Fat Fin" the killer whale on the prowl. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016.[/caption] But today was a big change up. About 15-minutes after we left the common dolphins we saw some splashing on the horizon and what looked like a buoy. But we kept looking at the same area. We kept seeing something coming up and going down. But it was bigger than a dorsal fin and smaller than lunge-feeding humpback. Our photographer / naturalist Chase thought it was an orca and I thought it was lunge-feeding humpback. Turns out Chase was right. I think it was spy hopping when we saw it in the distance. As we got closer we were clearly on a single, large male orca. We've seen this animal before. It's been frequenting the Monterey Bay over the last few days. We call him "fat fin" on account of the very wide base of his fin where it rises from it's saddle. We were as excited as can be. And it was staying up nicely and traveling slowly toward Moss Landing. And we knew there were dolphins in the area. So things were looking interesting. Sure enough. This single male orca was making it's way toward a small group of unsuspecting long-beaked common dolphins. Apparently it's hard for a single male orca to take a common dolphin. We know he tried because these common dolphins took off in a high-speed stampede. But the orca didn't seem to have been able to get any of them. As we were tracking the orca, we came across a couple of humpbacks that were closer in to Moss Landing. So it's feeling like the good ole days of last year. Close in cetaceans. After a while we had some reports of at least three more humpbacks another mile or two to the south. So we made a course for that location. It wasn't long before this massive, full-size humpback whale launched itself completely out of the water just off our starboard forward quarter. Then another one launched. Then they both launched. Very spectacular. Hopefully we're just getting started and action will continue. I'll let you know tomorrow.
06-03-2016: Humpbacks, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Mola Molas and More
05-29-2016: The Blue Whale Bonanza Continues, More Humpbacks Move in, Reports of Orcas to the South
[caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="950"] The massive tail fluke of the blue whale can be almost 20' wide. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com.[/caption] What a difference a year makes. We definitely have had a change up in the cycle happening this year. The ocean life and the animals we find here can change or cycle out from year to year. [caption id="attachment_2566" align="aligncenter" width="950"] This humpback decided to throw itself completely out of the water. This is one of the more spectacular things we see out there. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] For example this year, we have had many storms and wind events followed by all day long sun for weeks at a time. These storms and wind events are what drives the productivity in our local system. Particularly the massive krill swarms. We didn't have a lot krill in The Bay last year. [caption id="attachment_2567" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Another blue whale tail fluke. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] We also had a very mild Winter and Spring last year. Last year it was all about the anchovies. It was a full-on feeding frenzy with all the animals often feeding on surface anchovies right in the same area. Birds squacking and diving, sea lions yelping and whales blowing and popping their big heads out of the water as they do a vertical surface lunge. [caption id="attachment_2569" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Here we see a pair of blue whales on the prowl. Photo: Bob Western, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] Well that was last year. This year there are very few anchovies to be found. The whales seem to be feeding mostly on krill. That little shrimp-like crustacean. Krill is thought to be the main prey item for the mighty blue whale. [caption id="attachment_2570" align="aligncenter" width="950"] This was a very young elephant seal. This one was not much bigger than about three or four feet. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] The massive abundance of krill close to mouth of the Monterey Bay is what is bringing a large number of blue whales here. We've been seeing at least 20+ blue whales in an area about 2-miles in diameter. At times it seems like there are more than that. It's hard to count them when they start popping up all around. It's truly a spectacular experience. The blue whales are the largest animals to have ever roamed the earth. The largest blue whale ever recorded was 110' long. That was down in Antarctica. Most of the blue whales we see here in the Monterey Bay are likely in the 80'-90' range on the upper end. We've also been seeing more humpbacks moving in. Humpbacks are more versatile in what they eat. They eat krill and small schooling fish like anchovies, sardines and small herring. The only thing that isn't that great is that the big show is about eight to nine miles from port. So we have to run for just under an hour before we get to big show. We have been coming across the random humpback or two as we make our course for where the blue whales have been. They've been in the same area for the last week or so. Hopefully they'll stay. Or maybe even more will show up. We never know. Early July used to be our best time for blue whales. So they did show up a little early. So we'll go with it. [caption id="attachment_2574" align="aligncenter" width="950"] A nice look at a blue whale tail fluke. Photo: Bob Western, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] We did have to discontinue our two hour trips for now because the whales have been further out and two hours has not been long enough for a proper whale watching excursion if we want to see the blue whales. At least we don't have to come as far as the boats coming from Monterey. They have to come more like 15 miles or more. Hopefully everything will start to move closer to Moss Landing. But in the meantime, we're loving the incredible blue whale action.
05-23-2016: It's All About the Blue Whales Today, Humpbacks Going Strong
[caption id="attachment_2558" align="aligncenter" width="950"] This is a massive blue whale. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 05-23-2016.[/caption] Today we had blue whales in the Pajaro Hole. That's straight northwest of the Moss Landing Harbor. We came across a few full-size animals. Had to be 80' long. Nice conditions and scattered humpbacks most of the trip. [caption id="attachment_2559" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Blue whale tail fluke. They don't always show us their tail fluke. So this was nice to see. :Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 05-23-2016[/caption] There is a lot krill in the Monterey Bay right now feeding this massive influx of baleen whales arriving from their winter migration. [caption id="attachment_2560" align="aligncenter" width="950"] More blue whale tail fluke antics. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 05-23-2016[/caption] Blue whales, humpback whales, fin whales are species we are likely to see when we have these massive krill swarms throughout the Monterey Bay. We also heard reports of more blue whales and killer whales further out.
05-22-2016: Blue Whales Show up In Large Numbers Throughout The Bay, Humpback Whales, Reports of Orcas, Dolphins
[caption id="attachment_2549" align="aligncenter" width="950"] A blue whale goes down for a dive. A full-sized blue whale's tail fluke can be 20-feet wide.[/caption] The weather has been a challenge over the last week or so. Between the thick fog and heavy winds, it hasn't been all fun and games. But we've managed to find whales and dolphins on days that we've been able run. [caption id="attachment_2554" align="aligncenter" width="950"] This gray whale was photographed from the beach right out in front of the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Bob Western.[/caption] The blue whales are in the Monterey Bay in numbers that we've haven't seen for a few years. [caption id="attachment_2550" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Here is an excellent look at a Tufted Puffin. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] We've been able to do most of our morning trips. But even some of the early morning trips have been canceled because of wind and steep swell. [caption id="attachment_2551" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Here a Risso's dolphin breaches. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com[/caption] For the most part we are pretty well into what we would consider a normal Spring weather cycle. That is, somewhat calm conditions in the morning and rough windy conditions in the afternoon. [caption id="attachment_2552" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Moss Landing sea lion feeds on a nice sized salmon. Photo: Bob Western.[/caption] But this windy weather is why we have blue whales in The Bay right now. Blue whales mainly feed on krill. All the wind we've been having has been good for productivity and has spawned some massive krill blooms. [caption id="attachment_2553" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Here's a common dolphin calf trying to keep up with it's mother. Photo: Bob Western[/caption]