Sightings Report: August 13, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours Vessel Kitty Kat


On my first trip of the day we found whales right under the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge - the same spot as yesterday. In fact, it turned out to be the same humpback whale hunting near the north tower of the bridge. 

Humpback fluke.

Humpback fluke.

The wind was blowing at an estimated 20 knots with stronger gusts. A strong tide pulled us continuously east. We approached the whale slowly, making sure to give plenty of space as a large container ship passed by us. 

The whale was feeding in 120 feet of water packed all the way to the bottom with anchovies. We saw several fluke dives within 50 yards of our boat; we floated in neutral the whole time and never ran more than 3 knots when within 200 yards of the whales. We got a great view of the blowhole and tubercles!


By the time we headed back out at 6pm, there was a thick fog over the bay. We still had about 200 yards of visibility at best - sometimes it was closer to 50 yards. The winds were 20 knots and we threw some spray as we headed out towards the Golden Gate Bridge. 

I had a feeling that the whale would be moving out with the tide towards Diablo Cove, so we decided to slowly move up the north side of the Golden Gate Strait. Within a few minutes I had located a spout 150 yards from us, south of Diablo Cove. 

Humpback fluke in the fog.

Humpback fluke in the fog.

We watched a few spouts followed by a fluke dive, then we slowly moved to the north side of the strait to avoid a large outbound container ship and a tug pulling a barge. We also sighted a lot of aggressive harbor porpoise activity, including many mothers with calves, and a harbor seal. 

After a few sightings we lost the whale, and we headed back to the middle of the strait. There we found not only our whale, but a massive group of swarming sooty shearwaters. The group was twice the size of the previous day's; the birds did not seem to be feeding. There was lots of other bird activity in the area as well. 

All whale 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! I'd love to add them to this post for others to enjoy (with credit to you). Thank you!***