Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat
There was wind in the forecast as we headed out towards the Farallons. The weather seemed pretty good outside the Golden Gate Strait, so we decided to pass a few humpback whale spouts in favor of beating the wind to the islands. We turned north to Bolinas before turning west towards the islands.
The weather held until about 10 miles from the islands, when the wind started to pick up. Not long after that we spotted our first blue whale.
The whale surfaced in front of us and then seemed to move north. There were large red splotches on the surface of the water, indicating huge masses of krill.
The whale was feeding in 180 feet of water.
We continued on, only to be stopped by a set of three blue whales a couple of miles west.
These three blues included a pair who surfaced and spouted together, along with another individual not far away. One of them came within 75 yards of our boat.
We also spotted a humpback near the boat at this point.
We decided to continue on with six more miles to the islands. We were spotting spouts to the south, but we headed for the far side of the Farallons. There were lots of sooty shearwaters, common murres, and northern fulmars flying around.
We made it to the Farallons and started at Mirounga Bay. We spotted some northern fur seals, sea lions, and elephant seals on the islands and in the water near the rocks.
We also spotted a couple of tufted puffins in the air, a rhinocerous auklet floating in the water, and lots of murres, cormorants, gulls, and pigeon guillemots.
We started our journey back towards land with the wind and the swell at our stern. After going a few miles, we started seeing spouts again.
We kept the bow pointed east and did not approach any of the whales, planning to parallel them without doubling back. At least ten blue whales spouted around us, several within 150 yards of us. At least ten more humpbacks were in the area as well.
At one point three humpbacks surfaced near our starboard bow, then came closer and closer before finally coming within 5 yards of the boat.
The humpbacks dove underneath us and reappeared at our stern with several more blue whales.
We also spotted a black footed albatross in this area.
We continued on towards land, seeing spouts 300-500 yards away for the next 5-7 miles.
We spotted several California sea lions on the shipping lane buoys on the way in, and saw a single spout in the Golden Gate Strait before we ducked back under the Golden Gate Bridge and headed back to Pier 39.