Sightings Report: March 28, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

8am: 

We started off strong on my first 2.5 hour tour of the year with harbor seal, harbor porpoise and California sea lion sightings in the bay and the strait.

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We headed out past Point Bonita and started North up the coast, where the waters were relatively calm. We didn't get far before I spotted a spout to the west. 

 Harbor seal

Harbor seal

It turned out there were two humpbacks in this area. They were somewhat elusive, making shallow dives in only 37 feet of water. One of them had a lot of marks on its skin, making me wonder if perhaps it was the calf with the skin condition sighted several times last season. 

 We saw lots of shallow dives where the whale did not show its fluke.

We saw lots of shallow dives where the whale did not show its fluke.

As we turned back and headed towards the bridge, we spotted a gray whale near Point Bonita. This one spouted a few times and disappeared. 

Just after we saw the spout, a huge container ship passed by us. 

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11am: 

On our way out we again saw harbor seals, California sea lions, and harbor porpoises. Near Diablo Cove we found a Gray whale. 

 A gray whale spouts from afar. 

A gray whale spouts from afar. 

While floating and waiting for the whale to spout, we picked up a pillow and a lifejacket from the water. We also got a good look at several harbor seals and sea lions. 

 Harbor seal. San Francisco Bay is home to several reddish harbor seals, likely because of traces of iron or selenium in the water. 

Harbor seal. San Francisco Bay is home to several reddish harbor seals, likely because of traces of iron or selenium in the water. 

We headed out to Point Bonita and north, hugging the coast. A large group of California sea lions were diving and splashing near the shipping lane buoy. 

We also spotted a large group of surf scoters and pelagic cormorants. 

When we didn't see a whale, we turned around and headed back to Diablo Cove, this time getting up close to the rocks to take a look at the resting harbor seals. 

We saw a few more spouts outside the Golden Gate Bridge and one near Baker Beach. 

 A Canada goose at Diablo Cove.

A Canada goose at Diablo Cove.

2pm: 

On our way out of the bay we picked up a large leather purse. The water color had changed significantly and the wind had picked up.

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There was a huge group of cormorants outside the Golden Gate Bridge, with harbor porpoises surfacing nearby.

The swell in the Golden Gate Strait was larger and the period was short. We saw the spout in the middle of the strait, in line with Mile Rock. 

We saw the whale surface a few times before a large container ship started to come in. We let them know about the presence of the whale. We then moved far to the other side of the channel to be well out of the way of the ship and avoid putting extra pressure on the whale.

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As we waited for one ship to pass, another started heading out. 

We spotted lots of harbor seals and a few California sea lions in the water. After watching the whale for a while, we headed to Diablo Cove and got a look at the harbor seals resting on the rocks at low tide.