Sightings Report: September 2, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat


This trip had very calm seas, humid air and bright sun. On a day of record breaking heat, we found two humpback whales out past the Golden Gate Bridge near Baker Beach. 

Fluke in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Fluke in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The two whales were doing fluke dives and moving slowly towards the bridge with the incoming tide. One was smaller, suggesting they might have been a mother with a juvenile. 

There was a lot of boat traffic, including two large container ships, a sailboat race, and other small power boats. SFWT vessel Happy Days was also out whale watching. 

The two SFWT vessels were both 200-250 yards away from the whales, floating in neutral, when a small Parker boat sped past doing at least 15 knots. When the small boat saw the surfacing whale, they did a u-turn and chased down the whale. They approached at high speeds and got within 20 feet of the whale, who sped up its dives. Several times the whale decided to forgo a fluke dive in favor of a faster, shallower dive. The boat repeated this behavior three times, speeding towards the whale every time it surfaced. 

We attempted to call the boat on the radio, but got no answer. At one point they approached Happy Days and we could faintly hear Captain John on the microphone informing them that they were breaking the Be Whale Wise rules. At that point the boat sped away from us and the whales. 

We continued to float in neutral, waiting to see where the whale would surface. At that point it came up within 30 yards of our boat and swam in front of the bow, giving us a good look. 

After the whale was safely at least 100 yards away, we slowly moved back towards Pier 39. Besides whales, we also spotted harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and California sea lions on this trip. We also used the boat hook and a piece of duct tape to remove a plastic water bottle from the strait. 

All sightings were reported to vessel traffic. Photos of the small vessel have been forwarded to NOAA. 


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!