easterly

Sightings Report: November 19, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

The weather was beautiful for this trip out to the Farallon Islands. We had a very light easterly wind, calm seas, and sunshine. We spotted harbor seals and California sea lions on our way out.

We found our first whales north of the shipping lane. There were two humpbacks feeding with a large group of birds circling over them.

It was a mother-calf pair that has been sighted many times before in this area. The mother has a large propeller scar on her back, and the calf seems to have some kind of skin condition, making them easily recognizable.

A close look at the whale's body shows a propeller scar just before the dorsal fin. 

A close look at the whale's body shows a propeller scar just before the dorsal fin. 

We didn't stay with them long, since we wanted to make it out to the islands. At one point we slowed down to take a look at the bright orange Pacific sea nettles drifting underneath us.

Once we got to the Farallons, we saw another humpback whale spout briefly near Fisherman's Bay. We were unable to relocate it, so we ducked into the bay to get a close look at the California sea lions resting on the rocks and playing in the water. They were very noisy. 

Many common murres were perched on the cliffs above us. We saw a large group of surf scoters fly past us, and one male/female surf scoter pair in the water.

Surf scoter male and female pair.

Surf scoter male and female pair.

We headed around towards Mirounga Bay, noting moon jellies in the water. The visibility was great and we could clearly see the bottom. Near Maintop island we spotted more sea lions and Northern fur seals. 

We also saw a group of eared grebes.

Eared grebes.

Eared grebes.

Since there was no wind from the northwest, we traveled around the northwestern side of the islands before heading back home. On our way back we spotted many huge groups of birds, but no more whales. 

Bird activity. 

Bird activity. 

Sightings Report: October 15, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am: Farallon Islands

An easterly wind pushed us west as we headed out for our trip to the islands. We spotted harbor seals and harbor porpoises, but were shocked to see spouts underneath the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The tip of a fluke just past the Golden Gate Bridge.

The tip of a fluke just past the Golden Gate Bridge.

The humpback whale feeding in the bay was also seen feeding here in August and September. We saw many fluke dives from this whale in the deepest part of the bay. There were lots of anchovies on our fish finder. 

Humpback whale.

Humpback whale.

We continued on our way to the islands, but stopped again to view another humpback whale northwest of the shipping lane. This whale was also feeding; a huge cloud of birds gathered over it. 

We continued on to the islands, which were full of pinnipeds and seabirds.

One humpback spouted a few times near Saddle Rock before heading west. 

The easterly wind which had pushed us out to the islands was against us on our way back. Since it was opposing the northwestern swell, it made the conditions much rougher than usual until we were about ten nautical miles from home, at which point the headlands blocked the wind and the seas became flat and calm. 

A huge plume of smoke was visible to the north from the Santa Rosa fires. 

3pm

We found two humpbacks northwest of the shipping lane. One of the two had been sighted the previous day.

They were feeding in about 100 feet of water, with some bird and porpoise activity nearby. The conditions were calm and sunny.