02-07-2016: Humpbacks Return, Many Common Dolphins in The Bay, Warm and Glassy Conditions
Many humpbacks appeared in The Bay today. We didn’t see them in large concentrations. We were mainly seeing singles and doubles. But we also heard reports of humpbacks to the south toward Monterey as well as up off Santa Cruz Point and Steamer Lane.
It will be interesting to see if they stick around. That would be awesome. We’ll start running more trips if that is the case. For now we’re still mainly running Friday thru Sunday. The weather has been amazing over the last week or so. Warm and glassy, calm ocean conditions.
02-05-2016: Nice Looks at a Trio of Gray Whales, 300-500 Common Dolphins, Warm Sunny Conditions
Today turned out beautiful. It’s a good thing the conditions were nice, because we had to go for an hour and a half before we came across anything. We enjoyed some excellent looks at a nice group of three southbound, gray whale travelers. They were staying up nicely as we tracked them for a handful of dive cycles.
With conditions so nice, we decided to head out a little further to the West until we got the ledge of the canyon where it dropped off to over 4,500 feet deep. We followed the ledge north until we got to where we call “The Corner.” The ledge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon turns toward Moss Landing at that point. We always find more productivity along the ledge of the canyon. Fortunately both the northwest ledge and the southwest ledges both lead to Moss Landing. Because the Moss Landing Harbor mouth is where the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon begins. So we followed the ledge in and that’s when we came across these long-beaked common dolphins.
By the time we left the grays as they journeyed south to Baja, we were almost to Cypress Point. That’s the north end of the Carmel Bay. So it ended up being a nice ride. Until the humpbacks show up again in April, we will likely be running 4-5 hour trips. Stay tuned.
02-03-2016: 30 Off-Shore Type Orcas, 500 Common Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins and More
The winter has been rough on the whale watching. We’ve been running trips mainly on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. And we have also been running our longer 4-hour+ trips. It’s pretty clear at this point that no humpbacks stuck around the Moss Landing area this winter. So I guess last year was a fluke. We had a couple humpbacks early in January, but after that we haven’t seen them.
So it’s back to the “gray whale grind” as I like to call it. This usually means heading out to where the “gray whale highway” is. Unfortunately that’s about 10-15 miles out. Sometimes we’ve been lucky and have had sightings just outside the harbor or some dolphins a couple of miles out. We’ve been doing pretty well with the dolphins, actually. Mainly long-beaked common dolphins. But we really never know what we’re going to see. We could have orcas show up anytime anywhere on The Bay. Speaking of orcas…
Today was incredible. It did take us 1.5 hours before we really saw much. So it was kind of a rough start. But once we were in the zone things got really interesting.
At any rate, we’ve been seeing excellent long-beaked common dolphins. So, that has been nice. Long-beaked commons, as we call them, love playing in our wake and riding alongside the boat. It is really neat to see. Especially in smooth, clear water on a nice sunny day. We have had those sprinkled in over the last couple of months. The occasional warm sunny day. Pretty far and few between.
January was very stormy. We had to cancel more than not. It’s mostly been gray whale watching. Maybe every other trip we’re getting glimpses of young, southbound gray whales cruising along the coast just outside the harbor.
We more often see this happening during the gray whale’s northbound migration. And more often than not it is a mother and calf. They will cruise by the harbor area just outside the surf line. We believe the mother bring their calves along the shore to avoid predation by orcas, aka killer whales.
If the weather cooperates, we’ll be running Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Once the humpbacks start showing, we’ll getting back to it and running more trips during the week. There’s still a lot to see out there when the weather cooperates.
12-28-2015: Humpbacks Feeding Right Out Front, Perfect Conditions
So far so good for winter whale watching. We still have about six humpbacks feeding in front of Moss Landing. There’s also been a lot of birds working the area feeding on anchovies.
The weather has been unstable for the last few weeks. So it’s been hit or miss. But when a nice weather window opens like we’ve had over the last couple of days, we’re loving it.
Most of the action has been just outside of the harbor. We have done some exploring and more often than not, things are pretty quiet out there beyond three miles. No birds, no anchovies, no whales.
I did do an early morning scouting trip this morning and came across about 200-300 common dolphins right outside of the harbor. But we didn’t see them on our 10:30 trip.
Right now it’s all about the weather. So when the weather has been nice we’re on it. We’ve also heard reports of orcas in the area. So we’re always keeping an eye out for the big black fin of the male orca.
For the moment we’re planning on running as much as possible to take advantage of the humpbacks right outside the harbor. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of months. We may be looking at a repeat of last years historic event where 6-10 humpbacks didn’t do the normal migration to Southern Mexico. They stayed here for the entire year. We plan on running most days for the next few weeks as long as the humpbacks stick around. Stay tuned for updates.
11-29-2015 Greeted by a Breach!
Sunday’s Whale Watch – Flat, beautiful water and a chilly breeze from shore made today a beautiful day already, but our 10:30 trip was greeted a little ways out into the bay with a breaching humpback! It gave us at least four breaches and some pec slaps, while its traveling companion threw a tail lob and then headed in a different direction. While this whale put on a show, we watched in awe. As it left, we spotted a small group of long-beaked common dolphins. As we played with the dolphins for a while, they led us back toward a group of diving birds. A hundred more common dolphins, pelicans, sea lions, and lunge-feeding humpbacks rounded out a really spectacular day out on the water. Photo: Vicky Stein
Friday, November 29, 2015 Great Lunging Whales!
Yesterday morning our first trip was seeing lunge-feeding humpback whales before we even left the harbor mouth. An enormous flock of birds (brown pelicans, Heerman’s gulls, cormorants, and murres, among others) dove into the water as the whales lunged vertically out of the water, mouths open wide. I’m sure the view from the beach was good, but the view from our deck was incredible. Here’s a shot of three whales, in different stages of their lunge. Check out those baleen plates, and the big pink inside of the whales’ upper jaws- the last thing those anchovies will ever see.
Both yesterday and today we were treated to some amazing tail flukes, whales parading by our boat. Sometimes the light was just right (I think it could be because the sun is relatively low this time of the year) for some nice rain-blows, as Captain Mike likes to call them. The condensing air from the whales’ breaths forms pretty little rainbows over the surface of the bay!
On both days, we also had the chance to spend some time with hundreds, if not over a thousand long-beaked common dolphins. Tricky to photograph, because they’re so fast, I managed to get one shot of a juvenile and its mother surfacing right alongside the Sanctuary. Any day with dolphins is a great day!
Despite the winter chill in the wind, it’s been a sunny and wonderful weekend so far out of Moss Landing. Monterey Bay has delivered spectacular views, sunshine, and lots and lots of marine life. Come out and visit us and the whales!
11-21-2015 Lots of Humpback Action Right at Moss Landing
11-22-15 Amazingly we have lots of whale action still at Moss Landing. Saturday there were at least 8 humpbacks lunge feeding a the harbor mouth and we’ve had Risso’s and Common Dolphins almost every single trip this week. We haven’t seen the orcas for a week now – but we know they could show up anytime. The sea lions were gathering in a big mob and foraging along with the humpbacks yesterday, which makes it even more exciting. We have space on our 2 pm trip today and well as both trips tomorrow. We are running daily trips all week except Thanksgiving Day (we don’t ask our crew to miss holidays with their friends and family).
10-22-15 Humpbacks are active today
After a slowing trend in whale activity this past week, it picked up today. We estimate 100breaches in the bay with lots of pec slapping today. Dolphins too.
10-15-2015: Very Active Whales, More Lunge-Feeding, Common Dolphins and More
October 15, 2015 Very Active Humpbacks at Moss
The activity patterns of our local feeding humpbacks keep us guessing. Today’s trips were filled with breaches, pec slapping and tail lobbing. Yesterday we had sleepy whales in the morning along with great bow riding common dolphins and then surface lunge feeding and breaching, slapping whales in the afternoon. This week we’ve noticed that the whales are more scattered and tend to be cruising around in smaller groups of only 2-3 whales. Their activity varies from very active to quite sleepy with longer dives. Our sense is that the schools of anchovies are not as dense, so the whales are working a bit harder to fill their bellies. However, usually at least once a day we are lucky to locate large groups of cooperative feeding whales at the surface. The classic “surface lunge feeding” events are truly a sight to behold. They arise straight upwards with their enormous throat pouches bulging out and filled with anchovies.
We’ve started offering afternoon photography cruises lasting four plus hours into the dusk. The lighting is great and the behaviors tend to be more exciting at this time of day.
09-25-2015: Thirty to Forty Humpback Whales Continue Feeding Frenzy Just Outside of Moss Landing
The action has been rampant in front of Moss Landing lately. This is seriously some kind of wonder of the world. These humpbacks have been gorging within a few miles of Moss Landing for at least the last couple of months. The quantity of anchovies required to sustain this is staggering.
The larger animals are thought to eat up to 3,000 Lbs. pounds per day of anchovies. The humpbacks also eat krill when it is around. But the last couple of years they have been eating mainly anchovies. I have to wonder where the anchovies keep coming from. They seem so abundant. We believe it’s because the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon is so vast and productive.
We have been observing a variety of surface behavior. Tail-lobbing, breaching, lunge-feeding, pectoral fin slapping and all manner of general hijinx.
The conditions have been mixed. Some of the afternoon/evening trips over the last week had some rough conditions. But we’ve also had some amazing evenings and sunsets. We’re looking forward to calmer conditions as we get closer to October. We are also planning on doing some marine life photography workshops in October. They’ll be 4-5 hour+ trips from 02:00 PM until dusk. Limited to 20 photographers. Check our online calendar in October for dates, times and pricing.
09-20-2015: Humpbacks and Common Dolphins Continue to be the Sure Thing In Front of Moss Landing
We had a few days last week with rough going in the afternoon. The conditions have been nice for morning trips and most of the day. Today it was nice all day long.
Earlier in the week we were fortunate enough to witness a rare orca predation event on long-beaked common dolphins just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. It was incredible.
We had already been tracking a pod of about seven orcas when we could see the unmistakable splashes of dolphins coming our way about a mile to the north. We suspected this could be interesting.
The orcas disappeared when the dolphin pod was within about a 1/2 mile of us. After a few minutes, the dolphins immediately jumped (all 500 of them) at once and took off in a mass, rapid stampede to the East. It was quite the sight to behold.
Today the conditions were outstanding. Very warm, decent sea conditions. There was a pesky little lump, but pretty amazing overall. Sightings varied throughout the day. These animals were moving around. So we had mixed results. At times the whales seemed to scatter. Maybe spread out as they went into search mode.
But then we also had them come together as they worked groups of 10-15 or more. Seeing and hearing 10-15 of these massive animals surfacing and fluking together is incredible.
There was also the random breach or tail-lob in the distance and some limited surface lunge-feeding. But that was also pretty random. On the 05:00 PM trip 15-20 humpbacks came together and were working an area just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. They would surface all at once right next to each other, blowing in succession.
It looks like the conditions should be nice for the morning trips in the coming week. We never know with the afternoon and evening trips. When the weather comes together, you can’t beat the evening trips. What with the beautiful sunsets and perfect lighting. But sometimes the wind comes up and we have to cancel. Hope to see you out here.
09-12-2015: Humpback Whale Breaches on Kayakers, 30-40 Whales Right Outside Of Moss Landing, Long-beaked Common Dolphins, Incredible Spectacle
It just keeps getting better and better. Today we saw a lot of active whales. A lot of different whales seem to be breaching and tail-lobbing more than normal today. So we always appreciate that. It’s quite a spectacle to see a 45-foot plus animal launching completely out of the water. We call this a full-breach.
Today a couple of kayakers were very lucky. They came very close to getting crushed to death by the mighty humpback whale. A full-size humpback can weigh in at 40-tons. That’s a lot of heavy blubber that would surely flatten a kayaker if the whale had a direct hit.
This was one of the more dangerous situations that I’ve seen out here. Here we were, minding our own business, checking out large quantities of humpback whales as they surrounded us in the Sanctuary. When all of a sudden, this massive full-size whale does a full 180-degree breach.
The only problem is that it landed on two kayakers on a tandom rig. Pretty serious situation. Kayak whale watching can be extremely dangerous. And one should realize that humpback whales are wild animals and totally unpredictable. It’s a very uncontrolled environment out there. Just like any wilderness experience.
Most of us who have hiked or camped in bear country take the same chance with wild animals and this can also be dangerous. Especially up in Alaska grizzly country. Many hikers have been mauled or killed after coming across a grizzly mother and cubs and accidently startle them. But these are the risks we take to enjoy nature. What about wandering around in the African Savana? There are dangerous animals there too. Buffalo, Moose and bears in Wyoming? Attacks on humans occur in these areas regularly. Mountain lions in the Santa Cruz mountains? The point is that if you’re going to be going into the wilderness and coming into contact with large wild animals, you just need to be aware that you are putting yourself at great risk and if you get hurt, that’s your problem. Especially with humpback whales. It’s just you and the whales. There’s no defense if a 40-ton humpback whale decides to come near you. Tail lob on you or breach on you. And that’s your problem if you put yourself in that position. Some people like it. You just never know.
If people want to go kayaking with whales and they get hurt or killed, that’s their problem. A human on a kayak has very little impact on a humpback whale. The humpbacks could care less. They are so massive they would very unlikely feel anything at all coming into contact with a human on a kayak. They weigh 40-tons for crying out loud. All they want to do is feed. The danger is probably less than hiking or camping in grizzly bear country. I can safely say that more people have been maimed or killed by bears, snakes, lions and tigers than have been by humpback whales.
I think it’s dangerous for people to go rock climbing. But I don’t plan on encouraging some kind of ban on rock climbing. If people want to rock climb and get enjoyment out of it, then good for them. Most kayakers show respect out there and just sit patiently and enjoy. But I see the idiots who ruin it for everyone else by power-paddling around, almost chasing after the whales. There always seems to be a least one person who is overly aggressive. Don’t chase the whales. It’s really pretty simple. Stay back 100 yards from an area where whales are known to be. Often, they are hunting fish in large areas and often will give you a pass by.
Speaking of kayaking with humpback whales, Giancarlo and I cracked it before dawn and paddled out in the dark to one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never seen so many whales in one place. I particularly liked it because they were all within a mile of the harbor. I could hear humpbacks trumpeting and the loud smack of breaching before I even launched from our sailboat in the south harbor.
At first we could only hear them. Then we could see the silhouettes of tail flukes and dorsal fins as they humped up for a dive. After about 15-minutes daybreak was on and we could see blows pretty much as far as we could see and hear them in all directions. As the sun rose low in the sky, the warm orange glow became overwhelming. Truly an incredible experience. Be sure to check back for part two of the video I shot on labor day with Giancarlo.
A common murre chick gets fed by it’s father. Photo: Michael Sack 09-11-2015
09-09-2015: Tail-lobbing and Breaching Humpbacks, Bowriding Common Dolphins, Warm and Glassy Conditions
As I sit here in our sailboat, in the stillness of predawn darkness, I can hear the unmistakable smack of humpback whales breaching and the loud trumpet blows of excited humpbacks. It’s really amazing to actually hear whales while I’m sitting right here in our sailboat in the harbor. Remarkable.
The Fall feeding frenzy is on. We’ve been really having some nice feeding and breaching events for the afternoon trips. Especially that 05:00 pm. There’s nothing as better than when the conditions come together. Sunset on the ocean is almost magical. The warm glow of everything around you as the sun reflects off the ocean.
Our perfect fall conditions seemed to have set in. Warm and glassy with the living good all day long. And humpbacks in large numbers. I’m talking almost too many to count.
And they have been working together in tight groups. I would estimate 30-40 humpbacks or maybe even more. It’s hard to count them all before they all go down.
We’ve also had a few random killer whale sightings, so that is always nice. They seem to be going after the long-beaked common dolphins we’ve been seeing pretty much everyday.
09-02-2015: The Lunge-feeding Continues in Front of Moss Landing, Common Dolphins, Birds, Sea Lions in Feeding Frenzy
Moss Landing continues to be the hotspot for marine life. The anchovies just keep on showing up. There is no place else in the world where within 10-minutes of leaving our harbor you can be with 20-30 humpback whales sharing a feeding frenzy with hundreds of common murres, brown pelicans, sooty shearwaters, pink-footed shearwaters, cormorants, seagulls, common dolphins, sea otters and more. Moss Landing is truly one of the marine life wonders of the world.
The sound is incredible. The squacking father murres and their chirping chicks, seagulls, the blows of the mighty humpback whale, the occasional thunderous smack of a breaching humpback. It’s amazing auditory experience. Often times I’ll shut off the engines and this really adds to our multi-sensory marine life experience.
09-01-2015: Epic Day, Rampant Lunge-feeding All Day Long, Orcas Take Down A Common Dolphin
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we had a day like today. Sure, we’ve been seeing a lot of surface lunge-feeding pretty much everyday. But today was over the top.
Early in the trip, we drifted around just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor with 20+ whales swimming all around the boat, often popping up within 10-feet of the boat. Seriously, we had them literally popping up in all directions. At the bow, both sides and at the stern. Moss Landing Marine Park style.
But a mile out to the west, I had my eye on a large group birds that seemed to be working a large school of surface anchovies. After about 30-minutes I noticed the unmistakable big, fatty head of the mighty humpback whale popping up out of the water.
I still wasn’t convinced to leave this large aggregation of humpbacks that were circling the boat as the worked together feeding just below the surface. But then I saw two big fatty whale heads pop up together. This was looking good. So we decided to make a course and head in that direction.
The only problem was that there were so many whales all around us, we were pretty well pinned down. So I waited for my break. Kind of inching my way toward the west, away from the humpback whale mayhem that surrounded us.
We were finally able break away and made our way out a mile or so out to the west were the bird action was and where there were a couple humpbacks doing the occasional surface lunges.
As we approached, we could see more whales in the distance making their way toward what appeared to be surface anchovies as far as we could see. And the common dolphins, birds and whales were working it in full frenzy mode. One of the better feeding frenzies I’ve seen.
Then we heard a report of orcas not far from our position. We could see the unmistakable tall black fin of the killer whale about a mile away. And they were making their way towards Moss Landing. It was hard to leave the frenzy that were in the middle of. A couple of times, the surface anchovies creeped up under our boat and all the animals followed.
That was too close for comfort, so I was forced to bump the engines to scatter the anchovies as we slowly moved away from all the action. It’s one thing to be observing all the action from a safe distance, but quite another to actually be right in the middle of the action.
After another 15-minutes, we decided to leave the frenzy and go check out the orcas. As we approached, we could see that they were in pursuit of a common dolphin. They had separated this unfortunate dolphin from the rest of the pod and were in hot pursuit. We could see hundreds of dolphins blasting away from the scene as they stuck together in a close pod and were leaping out of the water as they scurried around. It was quite a spectacle to behold. You can see the video of the dolphins as the BBC Big Blue Live helicopter was up above us filming. Very cool. Moss Landing delivers once again.
08-31-2015: Lunge-feeding Humpbacks All Week Long, Common Dolphins, Random Breachers, Tail-slapping, Tail-lobbing and More
The productivity of the waters just outside of Moss Landing just keep on producing. It’s really hard to fathom. We’ve had at least 30 humpback whales feeding almost 24-hours a day for more than a month now.
And these animals can eat up to 3,000 lbs of anchovies per day each. It’s hard to wrap your head around. That is a massive amount of the 3″-4″ little anchovies. And they just seem to keep on coming. It really is a testament to the incredible productivity we have happening just outside of our harbor in Moss Landing.
It has been so incredible over the last two years, that for the first time in recorded history we had at least 10-humpback whales that did not make their normal migration to the breeding and calving grounds south of Puerto Vallarta in Southern Mexico. They just stayed here and fed right outside of our harbor in Moss Landing. We have had good numbers of reliable humpbacks every single day since March of last year.
I’m still amazed that more people don’t whale watch out of our sleepy little fishing village here in Moss Landing. People who know do. On any given day, one can go out on the beach and see the blows of whales and tail flukes as they feast just off shore.
We often have passengers that have gone out of Monterey or Santa Cruz just to find out that they had to motor an hour or more to The Moss Landing Marine Park before they see any decent whale activity. They seemed to feel duped. At least that what they say.
It’s pretty funny to witness. Of course, the Monterey boats show up and we’ve already been watching whales for an hour or more and then they have to leave so that they can get back to pick-up another 150 passenger load. Big whaling over there. Serious business. Meanwhile, we’re still there aboard our beloved little Sanctuary taking in the spectacle from our ocean level decks while the other boats have to take off. Leaving passengers wishing they were still watching whales aboard the Sanctuary. We call it Sanctuary envy. Those in the know go out of Moss Landing aboard the Sanctuary.
08-24-2015: Non-stop Lunge-feeding on the Early Trip, Continues For The 10:30 AM Trip
Sorry about not updating the Captain’s Log over the last couple of weeks. I injured my hand/wrist pretty bad so I’ve been having a hard time shooting and writing. Very hard to type. So I’ll have to be short on the text for another few days. Trying to type and operate computer, but it’s still a bit painful. But I did manage to pop off a few decent photo’s this morning. So here they are. I should be back at it by Friday.
08-23-2015: Orcas Take Out a Young Harbor Seal Next to The Sanctuary, Twenty to Thirty or More Humpback Whales Invade Moss Landing, Random Breaching, Tail-lobbing, Surface Lunge-feeding
Epic times in the Moss Landing Marine Park. The humpback whale action has been constant over the last few weeks right out in front of Moss Landing. We have had consistent large numbers of humpbacks within a mile or two of the harbor. At least 20-30 whales working in groups as well as scattered about.
There has also been consistent but random lunge feeding with 3-4 whales popping their big fatty heads up out of the water simultaneously with mouths agape chasing anchovies out of the water. It hasn’t been rampant lunge-feeding, but enough to to get some amazing looks.
There was one day last week when we had many whales breaching all over pretty much all day. So that was incredible.
Check out some video from today:
On our last trip today just as we were heading in, we came across one of our best orcas encounters ever. These four killer whales had a harbor seal pup pinned up against the Sanctuary. Passengers had quite an amazing close up encounter. At some points they were close enough to touch. Of course, we do not allow touching. Absolutely no petting the killer whales please. What a day. They were still out front of Moss Landing at dark. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. If I wanted to see killer whales, I would get on one of our boats tomorrow. You never know. Life in Moss Landing is good. Maybe not so good if your a harbor seal. But I’m just saying.
08-11-2015: Lunge-feeding, Breaching and Tail-lobbing Humpbacks, Bow Riding Dolphins, Molas and More, Best Action So Far This Year
08-08-2015: Moss Landing Whale Park, The Real Greatest Show On Earth
Tom Steinstra was serious when he called what’s happening in Moss Landing right now “The real greatest show on earth.” Check out this video and you’ll see what he means:
There has been an absolutely remarkable spectacle happening just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor over the last three to four days. Fifteen plus humpback whales have been feeding together on a mass scale.
The main reason this happens every year just outside of Moss Landing Harbor is because of a very unique geological feature found just outside the harbor.
It’s called the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. And the formation begins right at the Moss landing Harbor entrance.
It’s larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Within the Monterey Bay The Canyon can get to over 6,000 feet deep. Further outside the Monterey Bay The Canyon can get to 12,000 feet deep. This is known as an upwelling zone. We see massive marine life productivity along The Canyon ledges. Fortunately for us, it all starts right at the Moss Landing Harbor entrance. So we see massive humpback whale feeding events within five minutes of leaving the harbor.
08-06-2015: 15+ Humpbacks Feeding With A Large Herd of Sea Lions
There has been a big change over the last few days. The anchovies seemed to have bunched up nicely and it’s bringing the humpbacks and sea lions together. We’ve been seeing between 15-20 whales in front of Moss Landing for months now. However, they’ve been pretty well scattered over 2-3 mile area. They’ve also been coming up one at a time, breathing and going down. They have also been generally staying down longer with short surface times.
Over the last few days we’ve had 10-15 whales working with about 100 sea lions as they feast on the anchovies. Today, they were all right there next to each other and coming up all at once. It’s quite a spectacle.
First all the sea lions start popping up, splashing and barking. Then all the whales start popping up within feet of one another. The loud sound of their blows blasting one after another as they all surface. This is more what we were seeing during last summer’s massive feeding frenzy.
They’ve also been doing more surface lunge-feeding, spy hopping, breaches and tail-lobbing. The action seems to heating up. We’ll see what happens on Friday. Stay tuned for updates.
08-04-2015: Perfect Conditions All Day Long, 10-15+ Feeding Humpbacks In Front of Moss Landing
More humpbacks seemed to have shown up over the last few days. We have also been seeing large areas of anchovies at the surface.
At first the massive schools of anchovies appear darker areas of water. I’m talking large areas, like 1/2 mile or more in diameter. As you get closer and look down into the water, all you can see is anchovies. Right there at surface.
This has created perfect conditions for vertical surface lunge-feeding. Although we have no been seeing rampant lunge-feeding, there have been the occasional big, fatty whale heads popping up out of the water.
Today was all about the breaching and tail-lobbing. We had very active whales today. Many, many breaches, tail-lobs and tail slaps. It was remarkable. All day long on all trips, the jumping didn’t stop.
07-31-2015: Calm, Nice Marine Conditions All Day Long, 10-12 Humpbacks Feeding Next To Each Other
The marine conditions have been stellar over the last few days. We have also had more humpbacks show up outside of Moss Landing. We started out this morning with an 08:00 am trip. We had decent visibility to the South and to the West. But there was some fog to the North and to the Northwest.
We left the harbor going very slow. If there were any whales close by I didn’t want to miss them. Because there was a kind of light fog that made our visibility come and go. The fog did start to clear pretty well. But we still didn’t see any whales. They were not where they have been.
But I had the best visibility to the southwest and I could also see large numbers of sooty shearwater birds in that direction. So I made a course for the Southwest and followed the south ledge for about 4-5 miles. I didn’t see anything. I started to get worried. No whales for going on an hour. I don’t know when the last time this happened. I think the last time it took longer than an hour to find whales was going on two years now. This was disturbing. So I decided to head back across the ditch to the north ledge and see if anything was going on over there.
Soon I noticed splashing. Looked like dolphins. So I got off the roof, took the helm back and made a course for the splashing dolphins. That would be the long-beaked common dolphins.
So we spent about 30-minutes cruising around with about 30-50 dolphins as they rode the bow, alongside the boat and in our wake. That’s always fun.
But after a while we needed to start making our way back to the harbor. That’s when I noticed a couple of blows to the north on the inside of the Pajaro Hole. And then two more. And six more. The next thing we knew we were in them. With 10-12+ whales working a 1/2 mile area. They were all around. They would come together and we would see eight whales coming up and cruising by the boat right next to each other. It was some good watching. They were staying up good with short dive times and not going very far when they came up.
And this was pretty much the story for all the trips today. Many whales. But they moved about 2.5-miles to the North.
07-26-2015: More Humpbacks Show up in The Monterey Bay and Moss Landing, Reports of Blue Whales and More
The marine conditions have been unstable over the last week or so. But we have also had some of the best conditions of the year. So it’s been hard to predict.
The afternoon trips have been taking the most hits with generally windy conditions and lumpy seas. The good news is that there seems to be a mass of ocean life moving it’s way up the coast and into the Monterey Bay.
Moss Landing continues to be the sure thing for humpback whales as there have been between four and six humpbacks feeding daily in front of the Moss Landing Harbor for going on 2-years straight now.
We have been getting the occasional tail lob or full-breach. But for the most part it’s been routine whale watching. The warmer water temps seem to have driven the anchovies deeper. So we’re seeing some long dives.
The whole mass of sea life was reported last week south of Point Sur in Big Sur (Humpbacks, dolphins, sea lions, blue whales, fin whales and more). Reports each day over the last week indicate that the whole mass of marine life is moving steadily to the north and into the Monterey Bay.
We expect the feeding action to pick up soon as we have been seeing more anchovies at the surface over the last few days. Today we also heard reports of rampant lunge-feeding off Point Pinos and Marina beach about six to eight miles to the south.
07-23-2015: Humpbacks, Otters and A Friendly Mola Mola
We had mixed results throughout the day today. The humpbacks were scattered on the morning trip. We didn’t see our normal pair right out in front of Moss. So we had to go out about 3-miles to the northwest where we had some great looks at two humpbacks. We did a little exploring but didn’t find much.
On the afternoon trip our two faithful humpbacks were right out front. Then another couple of humpbacks showed up. So we had four scattered animals on the afternoon trip. We mainly stayed the two that had shorter dive cycles. One of them kept giving us the random tail lob, so that was cool.
But the wind picked up and made the going rough heading to the west. We pretty much stayed right out front for the whole trip.
07-20-2015: Moss Landing Humpbacks, A Handful of Surface Lunges, Elephant Seals and More
Another epic day on the Monterey Bay right out in front of Moss Landing. Perfect, calm condition for most of the day. The humpbacks started grouping up more today than they have been.
Over the last week or so we’ve been seeing mainly single humpbacks scattered over a 3-5 mile area. So it was nice to see more anchovies at the surface, shorter dive cycles and longer surface time.
07-19-2015: Epic conditions, more whales show up in front of Moss Landing, elephant seals and more
I don’t think I’ve been out in better conditions. Pure glass. T-Shirts and shorts and feeling good.
Between six and eight humpback whales showed up out front and have been working together feeding and staying up nicely.
We’ve even had a couple of random breaches and tail slaps. Today we had massive patches of anchovies at the surface. We also had the occasional big fatty head of the mighty humpback whale popping out of the water as they did some vertical surface lunge feeding. This has me thinking things are starting to heat up.
07-16-2015: Humpbacks, Risso’s Dolphins, Dalls Porpoise, Elephant Seal and More
As we turned the bend to head into the main channel, I spotted a blow. The mighty humpback whale. At this point we are still a quarter mile inside the harbor. I usually don’t say anything. It’s amusing to see the excitement of passengers when they see a blow and discover there is a whale not far from us.
We have had at least a few very reliable humpback whales just outside the harbor everyday for going on two-years straight now. It’s really quite remarkable. So we’ve kind of have a routine now. We start the trip by heading over to the blows just outside the harbor. At least that’s generally been the case for most trips over the last year and a half.
We always like to get some decent looks right out the gate. And depending on how the whales are behaving, we either stay with them or go exploring.
Today the Moss Landing humpbacks were treating us pretty good. We had this one animal do a nice vertical surface lunge. So that was cool. Today we stayed out front for about an hour. After that we headed out to where we were getting reports of more whales and dolphins.
We also came across a few different mola mola’s.
07-13-2015: Humpbacks in Front of Moss, More Scattered humpbacks 8-miles out and More
Humpbacks are still on the prowl and feeding within a mile of the harbor. Pretty much been the routine for the last year and a half.
We also heard reports of a couple more long diving humpbacks about 8-miles to the southwest.
Today the whales were making large circles. For the most part, they were singles. Not really feeding together. They seemed to be feeding separately and deep as they were doing about 7-10 minute dive cycles.
We were getting some great looks when suddenly this massive animal completely launches itself out of the water within about 20 feet of the boat. Quite spectacular.
07-06-2015: Friendly Humpback, a Jumping Thresher Shark, mola molas and More
The action started early in the trip as we stumbled across a lone humpback right out the gate. But soon it was obvious this was not a whale we wanted to watch. It seemed like a ten minute diver. So after a couple of dive cycles we moved on.
After about 10-minutes of running to the southwest I noticed a fish-like animal jumping about 50-yards off to my right. I immediately made a course and grabbed my camera. It jumped a few more times and when we were about 10 yards away it launched right in front of us. That was a rare sighting.
Check out some video from today: Friendly Humpback whales
There were a lot of whales around, but they were scattered into singles and doubles. I’d say 10-15 whales scattered over about a 5-mile area starting just outside the Moss Harbor.
More video from today: Moss Landing Humpback Showing Us Some Love
But all we needed was this one friendly. This animal spent the better part of 30-minutes under and around our boat. Floating below the surface right next to the boat, then going back and forth under the boat. A truly remarkable encounter. One I’ll never forget.
So things have been looking up. Over the weekend the action was mixed from one trip to the next. But overall amazing. We even had one lone orca on the 08:00 AM trip on 07-05-2015. The animal was clearly in hunt mode. So that was fun. We just really never know. Every trip is different.
07-04-2015: Humpbacks Getting Lively in Front of Moss Landing
It amazes me how different each trip can be. Even more so, how different each minute of each trip can be. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what goes down out there. Nature and her behaviors are unpredictable.
To us a lot of the behaviors we see seem random. Like breaching, tail-lobbing, pectoral fin slapping or friendly behavior. Today was a good example: On one of our trips, we had been waiting for a single humpback to come up from a dive. This animal was doing some long dives and then staying up for only a few blows and then down again. I’m talking a 7-10 minute whale. That’s what we call a ten-minute whale. When they’re doing 7-10 minute dive cycles. After a couple of ten-minute dive-cycles, I usually head out and look for greener pastures. I mean a guy can only take so much.
And after this whale’s second dive, I waited for about 5-minutes before I started to head out. Just as I was about to put it in gear, this massive animal launches itself completely out of the water. Then it continued to carry on at the surface slapping it’s pectoral fin against the water and rolling around and generally staying at the surface with short dive-cycles. Then after about 30-40 minutes of this, the animal just seem to leave. The rascal gave us the slip.
07-02-2015: Acrobatic Humpbacks in Front of Moss, Mola Molas and More
We started out the day with thick fog as we departed on our 08:00 am trip. I’m always nervous when we have fog. I just can’t help it. Even though the whales have been pretty much in the same area in front of Moss Landing for about the last year and a half, thick fog always makes me wonder if we’re going to find whales. Seriously, when we can’t see more than a boat length away in any direction. It makes it hard. But we haven’t been skunked by fog in probably well over a year.
These humpbacks can range up and down the whole California coast. Over the last year and a half there have been about 10 whales feeding between the harbor entrance and about 5 miles out. Sometimes they are closer, sometimes they are further. We never really know. So fog is always a risk.
Once we got into the area of where we’ve been seeing whales, we just kind of slowed to near dead in the water, looking all around the boat to the extent that we could and listening, smelling. That’s right, often these humpbacks have a foul smelling breath that fouls up an area. After about ten minutes of this, a full size humpback popped up and blasts a loud blow off to our starboard. It was kind of surreal, what with the fog and all.
We could hear other blows in the distance, but our visibility was masked by the fog. But as we inched in the direction of the blows, a large humpback popped the better part of it’s head and body out of the water and crashed down to the water. I call these chin slaps. This animal did this repeatedly. Then another one joined in and followed it up with a nice tail lob.
Now we’re talking. This is the kind of action we love. It was hard to get photos though because of the thick fog. But these things were going off. We had multiple breaches right next to the boat.
As the morning went on, the visibility got better and made for some excellent conditions. We did have some patchy fog as the day went on, but the whale action was fantastic.
06-29-2015: Six to Eight Humpbacks in front of Moss, Close up Tail-lobber, Sea Otters and a Massive Mola Mola
Marine conditions were not ideal today. Early on as we left the harbor visibility was poor. We had some solid patches of dense fog. So that’s never good. We used to get worried when we had dense fog.
But lately, because the 6-8 humpbacks have been consistently in the same area, we can usually find them. Even if we need to turn off the engines and listen and then move in the general direction of where we hear blows. We’ve found whales in fog on more than one occasion using this technique.
Luckily is wasn’t long before a brisk wind blew the fog away. But with the wind came some pretty lumpy conditions. It was manageable, but a pesky 1′-3′ wind chop made for some rocking and rolling.
The good news is that we had about 6-8 whales right out in front of the Moss Landing Harbor. One of them was putting on a show with massive tail lobs and tail slaps.
Then on our way back in, we got up-close personal with a 6-foot mola mola and a baby mola only about 1 foot diameter.
Of course we always love to see the Southern sea otter. We almost always get great looks at these cute animals. After all, Moss Landing is the center of their range.
06-26-2015: Humpbacks Still Just Outside Moss Landing, One Lone Orca Yesterday
The Moss Landing Humpback whale action continues just outside of our harbor. Early in the trip we had one humpback less than a mile from the harbor. We tracked this lone humpback for about 45 minutes before heading out to the west in hopes of finding more whales, dolphins or maybe even orcas. We never really know unless we head out.
After about about twenty minutes of cruising we started to see blows and then tail lobs and breaches. So we were onto some active whales.
But of course as not long after we got on the scene they seemed to have taken a break. But we did get to see a few close up tail-lobs.
Yesterday we had a killer whale a few miles out from the harbor. So that was a nice break from humpbacks. Especially when the 20’+ animal made a course for us and submerged under the boat just a few feet from us, popping up on the other side.