Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat
On this trip we found the whales close to buoys 7 and 8, right at the beginning of the ship channel. There were three humpback whales feeding in 55 feet of water.
The whales moved around and frequently doubled back, moving to both sides of the shipping lane. For the most part they stayed close together. We even saw one triple lunge feed where the whales were nearly touching each other.
We also saw other evidence of feeding, including fluke dives, single lunge feeds, and birds hovering over the whales.
Ships passed by us over the course of the trip. At first we delayed our approach across the shipping lane because of a large inbound container ship. We were able to alert vessel traffic to the presence of the whales and the ship slowed down.
At one point one whale came within 15 yards of our boat. This whale was separate from the group of three that we were watching. This whale appeared to be traveling; after its close approach, we spotted it again several hundred yards north of us.
Over the course of the trip the whales moved just over a mile east. These were some of the closest whales to shore that we’d seen in a while.
We also spotted sea lions on the shipping lane buoys. At one point the whales approached them as well.
We spent about 50 minutes with these animals.
On our next trip we headed back out in the same area and found three humpbacks seven miles from our dock. Conditions had deteriorated since our previous trip, and the waves were steep with a short period.
One of the whales tail slapped for almost the entire trip. The whale changed locations, but continued to slap dozens of times.
We also saw several breaches from this animal.
The other two whales stuck together and we saw coordinated diving behaviors from them.
There was a ton of porpoise, bird, and sea lion activity in the area.
Near the end of the trip, we saw a sea lion eating what appeared to be a large salmon.
The whales were in about 63 feet of water and we stayed with them for 40 minutes.