Sightings Report: July 21, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had fog relatively high off the water and pretty good sea conditions. We had reports of whales northwest of the shipping lane, so we headed that way.

We found two humpbacks there in 80 feet of water.

We saw some fluke dives from these animals, who stayed close to each other the whole time they were feeding. At one point one of them did a full body roll. They appeared to be pushing the fish in between them.

Over the course of the trip the whales moved over a mile west.

There were fishing boats around us, as well as lots of birds and porpoises. We also saw some more spouts in the distance.

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12pm:

On our next trip we found whales in the same spot. There were still lots of fishing boats in the area. Sea conditions had improved from the morning trip.

We found six humpback whales in this area, all feeding in 84 feet of water. We saw some fluke dives from these animals as well.

Some large ships passed by us while we observed the whales. We stayed with them for about 40 minutes. We also spotted some common murre fathers with their chicks.

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3pm:

By our afternoon trip the conditions were beautiful. It was sunny and glassy calm out in the shipping lane, where we first found one humpback whale close to our boat. Additional spouts were off in the distance.

The first whale spouted 150 yards from us. We stopped the boat, floated in neutral and were surprised to see the whale pop up 10 yards from the boat and fluke dive.

The whale surfaced again farther from the boat, just as a ship was passing.

After that whale was 300 yards away from us, we continued out towards a group of 3-4 humpbacks that were near the pilot boat.

These whales were surfacing in synchrony.

There were lots of birds hovering around them, indicating that they were feeding.

We saw several lunge feeds from these animals. The highlight was a quadruple lunge feed where all four whales came up at once.

We got lots of fluke dives from these animals, but none of them are currently in our catalog.

The whales were slowly moving west. We were able to spend about 45 minutes with them before we had to head back to the dock.

Sightings Report: July 19, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day, we found one humpback feeding among the fishing fleet. There were both inboard and outboard motorboats, along with some ships passing by in the shipping lane. The whale was there for the same reason as the fisherman: to get food.

We also saw birds hovering and feeding in the area. We didn’t see any fluke dives from this whale, but we had big wind waves that made viewing more difficult.

2pm:

Conditions improved on our 2pm as the southwesterly wind began to die off. We headed out to the end of the shipping lane, turned around to start to head home, and found a humpback whale right in front of us.

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We saw a couple of lunge feeds from this animal within 50 yards of the boat. Birds hovered over the spots where the whale was feeding.

The whale was in 100 feet of water.

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Sightings Report: July 18, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we headed west towards the end of the shipping lane. There we found one humpback whale feeding in 86 feet of water.

We spotted birds hovering over the whale and anchovies on the fish finder. There were some fishing boats nearby the whale as well.

From some quick looks at the whale’s fluke, we were able to identify the individual as Lotus.

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It was foggy, but we had decent sea conditions for viewing the whale. We stayed with the animal for about 40 minutes.

2pm:

On our next trip we returned to the same spot and found the same whale, Lotus, still feeding in 94 feet of water.

Another whale had joined Lotus. We also saw splashes and spouts from whales in the distance.

The fishing boats were still present in the area.

Sightings Report: July 17, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we had beautiful sea conditions and excellent visibility with very little wind. We headed out past the shipping lane, where we found 5 humpback whales feeding.

The whales were in about 82 feet of water. 4 of them stayed within a few yards of each other for most of the time we observed them.

One of the whales had a propeller scar across its back. We identified her as the famous “Prop Mama.” She’s an older female who has had several calves, one of whom was killed by orcas a few years ago in Monterey. She is a repeat visitor to this area.

We saw lunge feeds from these animals as well as lots of fluke dives. We were also able to smell whale breath several times.

We also saw one whale roll on its side and slap its pectoral fin on the water multiple times. There were also a few tail slaps.

Near the end of the trip, three of the whales stuck together while one headed off in the direction of some small fishing boats.

We saw birds, porpoises, and sea nettles in the area as well. We were able to spend about 45 minutes with these animals.

2pm:

On our next trip we headed out through the shipping lane, again experiencing excellent conditions. However, near the end of the shipping lane we hit a huge bank of fog with less than a quarter mile of visibility.

We moved slowly through the area as we started to see huge bait balls of anchovies.

Even though the fog was dense, we found a humpback whale.

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We saw a couple of lunge feeds from the animal, as well as some shallow fluke dives. The whale ended up swimming around the boat about 50 yards from us. It was in about 100 feet of water.

A huge school of anchovies passed directly underneath our boat.

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We saw some container ships moving through the fog in this area. When we started our trip home, the dense fog had moved east all the way to San Francisco Bay, meaning that it had crept about 10 miles east while we were watching the whale.

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We also saw some common murres with chicks in this area.

Sightings Report: July 14, 2019

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

12pm:

After an extremely foggy morning trip, we found a humpback whale just a couple miles from Point Bonita.

The whale was traveling through about 50 feet of water.

There were big groups of birds and anchovies present, as well as some small fishing boats.

We did see fluke dives from this animal and were able to identify it as #11 in our catalog.

Sightings Report: July 13, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

9am:

On our first trip we found two humpback whales west of the shipping lane. They were traveling and moved a good distance over the amount of time that we watched them.

We spotted several ships nearby. The whales were in 78 feet of water.

We watched the whale for about 20 minutes before returning to port. Birds and anchovies were present in the area as well, including a large group of sooty shearwaters.

12pm:

On our second trip we had not yet reached buoys 7/8 when I spotted a spout to the north of the shipping lane. We went that way and found two humpbacks in the area. They were much closer to shore than where we had been finding them in the past week or so.

We didn’t see any fluke dives, likely because the whales were in only 53 feet of water.

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There were lots of other boats within sight of us, including fishing vessels, the pilot boat, and large ships. We also saw a lot of bird and porpoise activity in the area.

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We stayed with these whales for about 45 minutes.

Sightings Report: July 12, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this first trip we didn’t have a lot of visibility, although the sea conditions were good. After searching for a while, we finally found a few spouts southwest of the shipping lane, about 14 miles offshore.

The whale was traveling, which made it difficult to locate in the dense fog. There were lots of large ships passing through the lane and the pilot boat was in the distance. The whale was in 124 feet of water.

There wasn’t any bait on the fish finder when we were near the whale, but in other spots we had seen birds carrying anchovies.

On our way back in, we saw three more humpback spouts in the shipping lane with lots of birds around them. We marked the spot to return to it on the next trip.

2pm:

On this trip we headed west through the shipping lane in search of the biological hotspot we had found earlier. We found it slightly southwest of its previous location, but still close to the shipping lane.

In this area we found four humpbacks feeding in only 48 feet of water. We saw tons of bait on the fish finder and lots of birds hovering in the area as well. The whales performed lunge feeds several times.

Big wind waves made viewing somewhat tricky, but we were still able to observe whales coming within 100 yards of the boat. We stayed with these whales for about 30 minutes.

We also spotted a relatively small mola mola (ocean sunfish) in the area.

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Sightings Report: July 11, 2019

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we started with less than an eighth of a mile of visibility. We searched through dense fog all the way through the shipping lane. We were seeing a few birds and sea lions, but no whales.

After a while, it began to open up a little. As we started to turn to go home, we found a humpback whale directly west of the shipping lane, about 13 miles offshore.

The whale was in about 100 feet of water. We saw some fluke dives and one tail slap from the animal.

There were fishing vessels present nearby and we spotted bait on the fish finder, so it is likely the whale was feeding. We spent about 25 minutes with the animal before returning to port.

Sightings Report: July 5, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day, we found two humpbacks feeding southwest of the shipping lane.

The whales were in 122 feet of water with bait on the fish finder. They traveled over a mile in the time that we were observing them. We saw one tail slap from the animals as well.

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There was also a resting sea lion nearby.

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2pm:

On our next trip we found more humpback whales in roughly the same spot. They were still feeding in 129 feet of water.

These whales were quite active. We were able to spot some lunge feeding, breaching, and even pectoral fin slapping.

There were birds hovering over the whales and anchovies on the fish finder.

We saw a few fluke dives from these animals. Two of the whales were diving in synchrony.

We spent about 40 minutes with these animals.

Sightings Report: June 29, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had calm, sunny conditions. We found whales several miles west of Stinson Beach.

There were about four whales in the area, which was around 110 feet deep.

We saw lots of activity in this area from birds, fishermen, and whales. There were also anchovies on the fish finder. The whales were lunge feeding and gave a few fluke dives.

From one fluke we were able to identify #38 in our catalog.

We stayed with these animals for about 30 minutes.

12pm:

By our next trip, the conditions had deteriorated and we had a lot more wind. We returned to the same spot as earlier and found two humpback whales feeding near some small fishing vessels.

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