Sightings Report: October 24, 2018

8 AM Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed out past the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate Strait. A crew member spotted a whale near Mile Rock. It was a single humpback.

The humpback was feeding in an area with a lot of tidal action. We saw many lunge feeds as the whale fed on anchovies. We floated in the vicinity of the whale for a while before the whale began using the tide to come towards us. We saw at least one lunge feed within 50 yards of our boat.

As the tide came in, the whale moved towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We did not see fluke dives from the animal, but we were able to identify it based on the scars and markings on its body.

1 PM Sighting from Golden Gate Bridge

We only had one trip on the boat on this day, so after the tour a few members of Golden Gate Cetacean Research met on the Golden Gate Bridge to see if we could spot the whale.

The humpback had used the tide to move far into the bay. We could see it breaching and spouting near Alcatraz. At one point a large cruise ship passed by the whale.

While we waited for the tide to change, we photographed harbor seals and porpoises underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

We spotted several mother-calf pairs among the harbor porpoises.

We also witnessed porpoises chasing fish and at least one mating attempt.

We lost sight of the whale for a while. Then I finally spotted it near Fort Point, only a few hundred yards from the bridge. We managed to get a few photos before the whale swam under the bridge and came out on the other side.

The whale breached in the Golden Gate Strait and continued to move out with the tide.

Sightings Report: October 21, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed out to the Farallon Islands. We had relatively good weather with very little wind, although the skies were grey.

We turned north out of the Golden Gate Strait and made our way to Bolinas, where we turned west towards the islands.

When we made the turn, we found a humpback whale. It breached and showed us its fluke.

We decided to continue past the whale to make the best of the good weather. On our way we picked up several balloons.

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When we got to the islands we started in Fisherman’s Bay. There were lots of California and Stellar’s sea lions on the rocks.

We also spotted a couple of peregrine falcons on top of sugarloaf, and a couple of brown boobies farther down the rock.

We then moved towards Mirounga Bay. Diver Ron Elliot and Great White Adventures were both present, searching for Great White sharks. We didn’t hear any shark reports from them, but the cage diving boat reported that a gray whale had swum close to their cage.

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There was another falcon on top of Saddle Rock.

When we turned around and made our way back towards the California coast, we spotted a couple of sunfish close to our boat. One was floating with it’s mouth out of the water.

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The sunfish (also known as mola mola) ended up near our stern, where one of them started breaching! It breached three times in a row.

On our way back towards the shipping lane, we saw several more whales including several breaches. It brought our humpback whale count up to 9-10 animals.

Sightings Report: October 20, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

We had excellent weather as we headed out into the Gulf of the Farallones. We headed straight west for the Farallon Islands.

Just past the precautionary area we found a humpback near the Oceanic Society vessel, the Salty Lady.

There was also a seal carcass floating in the water. It had been there for a while and seemed to be headless. There were a few circular bites from cookie cutter sharks. The carcass was probably from an attack from a great white shark.

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As we headed farther out, we found more and more humpbacks. About 20 miles out we found a group of 10 within sight of us. One of them came 15 yards from the boat.

We saw several lunge feeds while the animals were close to us, indicating that they were feeding. There was also a lot of bird activity above the animals.

When we reached the Farallon Islands, we spotted another spout. This one was less regular, and after several minutes of observation we were able to identify it as a gray whale. We saw one fluke dive.

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Ron Elliot, the famous scuba diver, was diving at the Farallons to take footage of the sharks. The cage diving boat was out as well.

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The islands were full of California and Stellar’s sea lions, northern fur seals, and northern elephant seals.

We spent a while at the islands to see if we could spot any sharks, but none surfaced. We did spot lots of sea nettles and moon jellies.

When turned around and headed back to land, we spotted lots of humpback whales. Between the islands and the shipping lane we saw at least 10-15 whales, including several breaches.

Sightings Report: October 17, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

For our first trip we headed west of the precautionary area. We found at least ten whales just west of buoys 1 and 2.

There was a ton of bird activity all over the shipping lane. We saw some anchovies boiling at the surface, which let us know what the whales and the birds were feeding on.

We saw feeding behavior, including a few lunge feeds. We were able to identify several of the individuals in this sighting.

Many ships passed by us during this trip.

We spotted some California sea lions on the shipping lane buoys. We also had some harbor porpoise activity.

11am:

We returned to the same spot on our next trip. On our way out we spotted more sea lions. Some of them were porpoising.

A little bit farther west we found 5 humpbacks.

The whales kept a distance from us, but we were downwind and were able to smell their breath.

There were lots of birds in the area. We confirmed that at least three of the individuals we saw were the same ones we had seen on the previous trip.

2pm:

On our final trip of the day we headed a little bit farther north than the previous trips. We found three whales, all far from each other.

One whale near a container ship was breaching repeatedly.

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We did not see fluke dives from the other whales. They kept their distance from us. We did see lots of bird activity and some sea lions on the buoys.

Sightings Report: October 13, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

We headed west on this afternoon trip. We made our way through the shipping lane all the way out past buoys 1 and 2 to the pilot vessel. The weather was calm with very little wind.

Out past the precautionary area there were at least 6 whales: two pairs and two individuals.

We saw a few breaches from these animals and several fluke dives. One pair approached the boat, swam underneath us, and then slapped its tail when it surfaced on the other side.

There was a lot of bird activity in the area.

We saw at least four large ships pass by.

Sightings Report: October 10, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

2pm:

On this trip we headed north up the Marin coast. We found a humpback whale near Muir Beach.

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The whale was moving north but seemed to be feeding as it went. We saw a few small lunge feeds and there was some bird activity above the whale. We also spotted anchovies at the surface.

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The whale was very close to the rocky reef and shoreline. We followed it north all the way to Steep Ravine.

Sightings Report: October 3, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

8am:

As we headed out on our first trip we had light eastern winds and flat seas. We headed south to Pacifica, where we found 6 humpbacks.

There were two pairs and two individuals all feeding in the same general area. There were lots of birds above each whale.

We saw feeding behavior and fluke dives spread out over a few miles.

There were a lot of moon jellies and sea nettles in the water.

11am:

On our next trip we returned to the same spot and found one humpback.

We saw several fluke dives from this animal.

A few miles away as we made our way back in, another humpback breached and then dove 200 yards from the boat.

2pm:

On our last trip we returned to the same area a few miles off the coast. We went all the way to San Pedro before turning around and making our way back closer to the shore. Here we found three humpbacks.

One of them was close while the other two were farther away.

We saw one breach and one fluke dive from the closer animal.

Sightings Report: October 6, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we had a northwestern wind and swell which pushed us south to Pacifica. We found two humpback whales there.

We saw a few fluke dives and lots of bird activity near the whales, which were relatively close to shore. One of the whales breached 150 yards from the boat.

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When we started heading back, we had another whale within a hundred yards off our port bow. We waited for it to pass us before continuing onward.

Sightings Report: September 22, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

3pm:

We headed to the north bar on this trip and found three humpback whales feeding in 47 feet of water.

Two of them were spouting and not showing flukes.

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The farther one was slapping its tail and pectoral fins and continuously breaching.

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We attempted to approach, but lost the whale.

Sightings Report: September 19, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

On our first trip of the day we started west in search of whales. A few miles west of the Golden Gate Strait, we started to see anchovies boiling at the surface. Then we found one humpback.

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It showed a couple of flukes and was moving around a lot.

It was very sunny on this trip. We also spotted several jaegers, harbor seals and harbor porpoises.

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11am:

Our second trip was still sunny, with slightly larger seas. We headed west again and found a different humpback close to shipping lane buoys 7 and 8.

It showed a few flukes and approached us a couple of times.

We also spotted jaegers, harbor seals, and porpoises.

2pm:

It was very windy by our last trip. We headed all the way out to the end of the shipping lane, but did not find any whales.