Sightings Report: August 12, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours Vessel Kitty Kat

3pm: 

We anticipated winds of up to 30 miles per hour at 3:00, and as we headed out we threw a lot of spray. Luckily we didn't need to go out very far - we spotted a spout inside the Golden Gate Bridge at Cavallo Point. 

 Humpback fluke in front of Crissy Field.

Humpback fluke in front of Crissy Field.

There were two large container ships approaching, so we kept a distance of at least 200 yards from the humpback and moved slowly if we had to move at all. We saw several fluke dives, and noticed a group of 10-15 harbor seals all swimming west. 

We noticed a lot of bird activity and a few harbor porpoises in the area as well. The whale moved slightly south towards the center span of the bridge and stayed roughly in that area for the rest of the time we were there. We had two fluke dives within 100 yards of us; we floated in neutral while the whale swam between us and the bridge. 

The wind continued to blow at an estimated 25 knots, with gusts of 30+ knots. 

 The tip of a humpback fluke, with San Francisco in the background.

The tip of a humpback fluke, with San Francisco in the background.

6pm: 

By the time we headed out at 6pm, the wind had subsided a little but the swell had increased. At Fort Point, a kitesurfer alerted us to someone struggling in the water. We approached a windsurfer who had lost his sail in the high winds and was being pulled west by the outgoing tide. We asked if he required assistance. He replied in the affirmative, and the Coast Guard asked us to perform the rescue. We pulled him on board and looked for his sail the rest of the trip. We were unable to locate it.

We proceeded into the Golden Gate Strait among large swells and some whitecaps, setting a course for Mile Rock. Once there we spotted a spout and a humpback's back 150 yards away. 

 A swarm of sooty shearwaters. 

A swarm of sooty shearwaters. 

We slowly positioned ourselves above the whale and put the boat in neutral so we could have the swell at our back. As we watched the spout, we also noticed a huge group of hundreds of sooty shearwaters circling on the horizon. They approached us and engulfed our boat before hovering over the whale. There was a lot of bird activity and harbor porpoises surfed the waves all around us.

 Whale spout surrounded by shearwaters.

Whale spout surrounded by shearwaters.

All sightings were reported to the Coast Guard and to NOAA via the Whale Alert app. 

***If you were on one of these trips and have photos, send them in to info.whalegirl@gmail.com! I'd love to add them to this post for others to enjoy (with credit to you). Thank you!***