Sightings Report: April 4, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

8am: 

As we headed out on our first trip of the day, Captain John received reports of two gray whales near Angel Island. We headed over to investigate. 

 A spout in front of Angel Island.

A spout in front of Angel Island.

Sure enough, we found two gray whales near Point Simpton, east of Angel Island. They kept a good distance from each other and spouted and fluked regularly. 

One of them was much closer to us than the other. A few times the whale came within a hundred yards of us. 

We reported these whales to Vessel Traffic, and they announced the presence of whales on the radio. Many big container ships and ferries passed by us as we floated watching the whales.

One ferry pilot communicated with us about the whale's location, then dramatically altered course to give the whale plenty of space. 

 A ferry approaches a whale.

A ferry approaches a whale.

We also saw a few California sea lions on this trip, both in the water and on channel marker 4.

 A container ship passing by. 

A container ship passing by. 

11am:

 Black crowned night heron resting on a piling as we left the dock.

Black crowned night heron resting on a piling as we left the dock.

On our next trip we found the same whale from earlier had moved slightly south to Point Blunt. A strong current rushes through there, but the whale seemed to be staying in one spot for almost the entire time we were there. 

Again, a few times the whale came closer than 100 yards to us. It surfaced very close to the Pacific Responder, which was moving through the deep water channel. 

There were fewer big container ships on this trip, but still a lot of ferry traffic. 

 The whale blends in with the water near this ferry.

The whale blends in with the water near this ferry.

We saw some more bird activity on this trip, along with California sea lions and harbor porpoises.

 Captain John took this great close up photo of the whale's fluke. Super crusty!

Captain John took this great close up photo of the whale's fluke. Super crusty!

2pm: 

The day was starting to get a little windier as we headed out on our last trip of the day. I initially thought I saw a spout off of Point Blunt, but we searched thoroughly and found nothing. There were lots of harbor porpoises surfing in the current at high speeds. 

We went around Angel Island, which was covered in wildflowers. When we didn't find anything we headed out towards the Golden Gate Strait. 

We made a stop by Diablo Cove to check out the harbor seals.

A couple of black oystercatchers were on one of the rocks. While we were there we picked up a plastic bag which was floating in the cove. 

 Black oystercatchers.

Black oystercatchers.

We continued out to Point Bonita, where another harbor seal rested on a rock. There was lots of bird activity. 

We spotted a spout just as we were rounding Point Bontia. The whale led us to Rodeo Beach, where we could see spouts from 3 gray whales at various distances from us. 

We also saw a huge group of surf scoters in this area.