Sightings Report: August 28, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days


As we left port we passed over a distinct tide line where the water dramatically changed color between the ocean water and the bay water. Frothed zooplankton (sea foam) gathered along the line. 

Birds hovering over the spot where a whale is about to surface. 

Birds hovering over the spot where a whale is about to surface. 

We found 3-4 humpback whales outside the Golden Gate Bridge near Point Bonita. There was a lot of bird activity over each whale as they did fluke dives on all sides of us. 

Two of the whales, potentially a mother and calf, swam east into the Golden Gate Strait. We followed slowly and at a distance.

I spotted a mylar balloon in the water - the fourth one in two days. We did a man overboard drill to retrieve it. 

Balloon retrieved from water. 

Balloon retrieved from water. 

As we headed back in, we saw a humpback surface right in front of a large container ship underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. We called Vessel Traffic and made sure they had a visual on the whale before proceeding back to port. 

As we left, the fog was starting to gather around the bridge. 


As we left the dock a sea lion swam near the pilings. It was foggy, windy, and cold, but the tide was still coming in even as we left, so we expected to find the whales farther east than we had left them. The top of the tide was 5:15pm. 

We found the humpback under the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge feeding in over 300 feet of water.

We floated in neutral and it surfaced within 100 yards of us as tons of traffic sped around the area, including a multitude of kite surfers. One kite surfer came extremely close to a surfacing whale. 

We saw some fluke dives and some long dives where no fluke was shown. The dives lasted close to five minutes. We noticed lots of harbor porpoise on our way in. 

Elegant terns flying by. 

Elegant terns flying by. 

All sightings were reported to Vessel Traffic. 

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!