Sightings Report: August 23, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours Vessel Happy Days

8am: 

 The pilot boat who reported the whales to us. 

The pilot boat who reported the whales to us. 

As we headed out on our first trip of the day, we immediately spotted a sea lion on one side of the boat and a tiny harbor seal on the other side. There was a lot of porpoise activity as we headed out underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate Strait. 

As we made our way into the shipping lane, a pilot boat called us and reported humpback whales to the north of them. 

Roughly a half mile southwest of Point Bonita we found a mother and calf diving in 150 feet of water. We saw several fluke dives here. The calf seemed to be heading east, while the mother stayed in the same spot. 

A big container ship passed us, and the calf headed further into the strait without its mother. We followed slowly at a distance of at least 200 yards. 

As we floated in the strait, a California sea lion off our stern ate a thrashing leopard shark while a cloud of gulls circled overhead.

 Sea lion with a leopard shark.

Sea lion with a leopard shark.

Another group of birds hovered over the whale in the middle of the strait. A strong incoming tide pulled us east as we sat in neutral.

 Humpback beneath a large group of birds.

Humpback beneath a large group of birds.

We also saw a lot of harbor porpoise activity at this time.

The calf made its way under the bridge and into the bay. We slowly left the area while it was in between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. 

 The Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

11am:

On our second trip we made our way through the middle of the bay so we could see the calf if it was still east of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

 30 foot wall of anchovies just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

30 foot wall of anchovies just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

We found the humpback mother and calf feeding together 1000 yards west of the south tower. There was a lot of fish on our sonar; the water depth was on average 150 feet.

We put the boat in neutral and floated east with the current, which was ripping at around 4 knots. The whales were also moving east; we saw several fluke dives within 100 yards of our boat. 

 Humpback calf fluke.

Humpback calf fluke.

The whales continued moving into the bay, feeding between Alcatraz and the bridge. The calf moved towards Fort Mason while the mother moved towards Sausalito. 

There was also a lot of harbor porpoise and bird activity inside the bay. 

 Humpback calf in front of the Bay Bridge and Coit Tower.

Humpback calf in front of the Bay Bridge and Coit Tower.

All sightings were reported to Vessel Traffic and to NOAA via the Whale Alert app. 

 Sailboat headed towards the Bay Bridge.

Sailboat headed towards the Bay Bridge.

***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!***