Sightings Report: August 16, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days


Our first trip of the day had beautiful flat seas with no wind. On our way out we found a large dining room chair floating in the water. We attempted to retrieve the chair, but it was too heavy for our boat hook, so we reported the debris to traffic.

We expected to find the whales somewhere near Mile Rock. Sure enough, once we were near the end of the Golden Gate Strait, we saw two spouts out in the shipping lane and one more near Point Bonita.

Fluke with small fishing boat and birds. 

Fluke with small fishing boat and birds. 

We slowly approached the humpback at Point Bonita and floated in neutral while watching several fluke dives, including one within 100 yards of our boat.

Harbor porpoise. 

Harbor porpoise. 

The whale moved towards the middle of the strait, and then headed in towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw lots of harbor porpoises with calves and a California sea lion.

We also saw several harbor seals, including one that floated on its back near our stern before turning around to stare at us. There was a lot of bird activity, but not much feeding going on.



We spotted a sea lion on our way out to the Golden Gate Bridge, and soon after we had our first spouts. The humpback was just outside the bridge between the south tower and Diablo Cove. It was the same whale we had seen earlier. 

The whale started heading towards Baker Beach, where we saw a second spout. The new whale had a lot of barnacles on its skin so it appeared much more gray than black, and its fluke was entirely white. Until I saw the dorsal fin, I thought it could have been a gray whale. 

We also spotted two sharks leaping out of the water. Their silvery blue color and long caudal fin identified them as thresher sharks. We also spotted harbor porpoise. 

Eventually a large container ship and tug required us to move out of the way, and we slowly returned to port. 

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