anchovy

Sightings Report: July 17, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we had beautiful sea conditions and excellent visibility with very little wind. We headed out past the shipping lane, where we found 5 humpback whales feeding.

The whales were in about 82 feet of water. 4 of them stayed within a few yards of each other for most of the time we observed them.

One of the whales had a propeller scar across its back. We identified her as the famous “Prop Mama.” She’s an older female who has had several calves, one of whom was killed by orcas a few years ago in Monterey. She is a repeat visitor to this area.

We saw lunge feeds from these animals as well as lots of fluke dives. We were also able to smell whale breath several times.

We also saw one whale roll on its side and slap its pectoral fin on the water multiple times. There were also a few tail slaps.

Near the end of the trip, three of the whales stuck together while one headed off in the direction of some small fishing boats.

We saw birds, porpoises, and sea nettles in the area as well. We were able to spend about 45 minutes with these animals.

2pm:

On our next trip we headed out through the shipping lane, again experiencing excellent conditions. However, near the end of the shipping lane we hit a huge bank of fog with less than a quarter mile of visibility.

We moved slowly through the area as we started to see huge bait balls of anchovies.

Even though the fog was dense, we found a humpback whale.

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We saw a couple of lunge feeds from the animal, as well as some shallow fluke dives. The whale ended up swimming around the boat about 50 yards from us. It was in about 100 feet of water.

A huge school of anchovies passed directly underneath our boat.

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We saw some container ships moving through the fog in this area. When we started our trip home, the dense fog had moved east all the way to San Francisco Bay, meaning that it had crept about 10 miles east while we were watching the whale.

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We also saw some common murres with chicks in this area.

Sightings Report: June 26, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we found whales west of Muir Beach in the same spot we’d seen them for the past few weeks.

There were five humpbacks feeding in 82 feet of water. One of them was close to us and the other four were farther to the northwest.

We observed some feeding behavior and fluke dives from the animals. Lots of fishing boats were nearby and we saw birds carrying anchovies, but we didn’t see much on the fish finder.

We spent about 30 minutes with these animals before starting to head back. As we headed back we found another humpback feeding on anchovies. We saw a lunge feed and a fluke dive from this animal.

2pm:

On our second trip we returned to the same area, where we found three humpbacks feeding in 55 feet of water.

We did saw some fluke dives from these animals.

There were thick bait balls of anchovies that the whales were herding and feeding on.

There were also lots of birds in the area, including murres carrying anchovies.

Some large ships passed by in the shipping lane. The Salty Lady was observing these whales as well.

Sightings Report: June 11, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8 am:

This was a very warm day with little wind. We headed south towards Pacifica in search of whales and found one humpback in the glassy water.

We spent about 30 minutes with the whale, who was surfacing once every few minutes. We didn’t see any fluke dives or lunge feeds from the animal, but there were lots of anchovies on the fish finder.

We also saw sea lions, seabirds, and jellies in the area, which was only about 34 feet deep.

We left the whale as it headed farther west.

11am:

On our next trip we found a whale just outside the Golden Gate Strait, a few miles west of Point Bonita. The whale was slapping its pectoral fin on the water far in the distance.

We saw a couple of fluke dives from this animal, which allowed us to identify it as #51 in our catalog. This whale has a unique fluke from some kind of skin disease which makes tattoo-like markings.

The whale was swimming east in about 90 feet of water. We saw anchovies boiling at the surface and lots of birds taking advantage of the bait balls.

2pm:

On our final trip of the day we headed south again and found a humpback whale off of Fort Funston.

The whale appeared to be feeding in 60 feet of water. We saw anchovies on the fish finder and birds on the surface to confirm their presence.

We saw a few fluke dives from this animal, allowing us to identify it as #6 in our catalog.

We also had a face full of whale breath on this trip!

Sightings Report: March 26, 2019

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

On our first trip of the day we headed out with a few reports of gray whales in San Francisco Bay. It was only a few minutes before we found the first spout, just east of our harbor.

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The whale was surfacing every few minutes in the ferry lane.

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After watching this whale for a while, we continued west and found another whale near Crissy field. This whale was very close to the shore. Neither animal showed its flukes.

11am:

On our next trip, we started off west and immediately found a gray whale near Fort Mason. The whale came very close to the shore, swimming in about 30 feet of water.

At one point a whale approached our boat within 100 yards.

We eventually found another whale near Fort Mason, but farther from the shore. We also saw spouts near Crissy Field.

2pm:

On this trip e headed back towards the spot where we’d left whales on our previous trip. We found one near St. Francis Yacht Club.

While we were enjoying this whale, a young sea lion came up to our boat and swam around it for ten minutes. It leaped in to the air and darted around us, staying within a few feet of the boat.

The whale moved around the Aquatic Park, slowly making its way west.

Eventually we lost it. We thought near the end we saw spouts just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, so we headed that way to try to get one last look. Near the bridge we saw harbor seals, porpoises, tons of bird activity, and a lot of anchovies on our fish finder.

Sightings Report: August 23, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

The water was calm and the sky was grey as we headed out for our first trip of the day. As we headed north, we saw the water start to boil with anchovies.

There was a lot of bird activity in the area as well.

There was a humpback whale nearby, close to Muir Beach.

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We did not see any flukes from this animal, as it was feeding in very shallow water.

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11am:

On our second trip we found the whale in a similar spot. There was still lots of food in the area and the humpback was definitely feeding.

We saw a few lunge feeds, including a couple that happened within 50 yards of the boat.

Near the end of the trip the whale moved farther from us and closer towards the shore, getting close to the rocky reef.

Sightings Report: August 22, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we headed north with calm water and foggy conditions. We found one humpback near Stinson Beach.

There were fishing vessels in the area as well. We saw a few fluke dives from the animal.

2pm:

We headed back to the area near Stinson Beach and found a different humpback feeding there.

We stayed with this animal for a while and saw several lunge feeds, a few of which were within 50 yards of the boat.

On our way back, we found another whale near Muir Beach. This whale traveled close to shore.

5pm:

We headed north again on this trip and found four humpback whales near Muir Beach. There were two individuals and one pair feeding cooperatively.

The pair swam in synchrony and may have been a mother and calf.

We saw several lunge feeds from these animals, including some that happened within 100 yards of the boat.

There was a lot of bird activity in the area. They focused on the areas above the whales where lots of anchovies had been stirred up and forced towards the surface by the lunge feeds.

Sightings Report: July 11, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days.

8am:

On our first trip we found a humpback whale in the middle of the Golden Gate Strait. The whale was moving east towards the Golden Gate Bridge. 

There was an enormous group of birds near Kirby Cove. Many birds had anchovies in their mouths. We also spotted anchovies boiling at the surface. 

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The whale moved through this active area, then in under the bridge to Crissy Field. 

While we watched the whale fluke, we spotted a small sunfish near our boat. 

A large container ship passed behind us as the whale made its way towards Fort Point. 

We picked up two pieces of trash on this trip.

11am:

On our next trip we stopped immediately to pick up a chunk of styrofoam. We continued on through the bay until we reached Fort Point, where the humpback whale was still feeding. 

We could see anchovies at the surface of the water. Harbor seals and harbor porpoises were also taking advantage of the food in the area. A container ship and many smaller boats passed by as well.

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The whale stayed in the area and did not leave the bay.

Sightings Report: July 2, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

2pm:

We had beautiful sea conditions as we headed out into the Golden Gate Strait. The sky was foggy, but the ocean was calm and there was very little wind. We quickly found a whale just inside Point Bonita. 

We saw a few fluke dives from the humpback. We also spotted another spout across the Golden Gate Strait and two more out past Point Bonita. I decided to move out towards the two whales to the west. 

We slowly approached the whales, who were feeding along a tide line. It was a mother and calf surfacing in synchrony. We gave them plenty of space, since mother-calf pairs tend to be extra sensitive to human interactions. They were not throwing flukes. 

After watching them for a few minutes, we drifted back towards the Golden Gate Strait, where we relocated some of the whales we had seen earlier. The two of them had moved to the west, while the mother-calf pair started to move east. 

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Visibility was decreasing as we headed back to port surrounded by fog. I spotted the first common murre chicks I have seen this season.

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5pm: 

On our next trip the fog had engulfed the Golden Gate Bridge, but in the strait visibility improved significantly. Some passengers spotted our first whale in the middle of the strait.

We saw one fluke dive from this humpback, who then disappeared. 

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I had my eye on more spouts near Point Bonita, so we headed that way. Near the lighthouse we found two humpbacks. One of them was the individual Akula, easily recognizable by the flat dorsal fin. 

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The other individual started tail slapping repeatedly while birds hovered around it. The tail slapping continued for several minutes. Occasionally the whale would take a break and then start slapping again. 

At one point a gray whale popped up 50 yards in front of us before swimming away to the other side of the strait. 

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We stayed with the active whale for most of the trip. At one point it breached 70 yards from our boat. 

We had at least 6 humpbacks and 1 gray within a half mile of our vessel. A large container ship passed us during the trip.

At the end of the trip as we headed back to port, we saw a whale near Point Bonita breach three times, followed by a whale at Mile Rock tail slapping. 

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I saw lots of murres with fish in their beaks on this trip.

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Sightings Report: June 26, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

We headed out through the shipping lane towards buoys 7/8, where we had last seen whales. We paused and waited, searching all around for the whales. Finally a crew member spotted a spout 500 yards west of us. 

We moved towards buoys 5/6, where we found a humpback. The whale was making shallow dives and changing directions constantly. 

There was a huge group of birds in the area, many with anchovies in their beaks. A few times the whale approached within 100 yards of our vessel. 

At one point during the sighting two large vessels passed through the shipping lane. We went to the opposite side of the lane as the whale, allowing it plenty of space while they passed. 

After the ships were gone, we again approached the whale, which was slowly moving west. 

We also spotted some harbor porpoises and some habor seals at a distance. 

Sightings Report: June 23, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

3pm: 

We headed out through the Golden Gate Strait and found a humpback whale near Mile Rock. It was exhibiting feeding behaviors. We also saw murres with anchovies in their mouths in the area. 

The whale gave several big tail slaps. 

There were more whales in the area, with two more humpbacks near the northern shipping lane and another in Bonita Cove. 

We also had a gray whale in the area. It approached us and surfaced within 50 yards of the boat. It surfaced several times followed by a fluke dive. We noticed some big plumes of mud near the whale, indicating feeding. 

A few big container ships and a couple of smaller fishing boats passed by us. We also noticed the group of juvenile Brandt's cormorants off of Mile Rock. 

6pm:

We headed back out for our final trip of the day. We first found a gray whale in the middle of the strait. We watched it for a few minutes as it seemed to head west. 

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We had three more spouts in the area, indicating a humpback near Baker Beach, one near Mile Rock, and one near Point Bonita. 

We positioned ourselves between Mile Rock and Baker Beach and floated in neutral. The tide pushed us down towards the whale, and the most eastern humpback surfaced on our starboard side 100 yards from our vessel. 

The humpback swam around our bow to the port side, then started tail slapping repeatedly. 

Both of us slowly got pushed in. We were watching the whale fluking in the strait as we sat underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

At one point we moved out of the way for a large container ship.

There was a lot of bird and harbor seal activity in the area as well.

All sightings were reported to Vessel Traffic.