All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat
High winds were in the forecast as we started to make our way out to the Farallon Islands. The Golden Gate Strait was especially rough due to a powerful incoming tide.
We had just passed the Golden Gate Bridge when we saw spouts. It was a humpback in the middle of the strait.
We were not seeing any flukes from this whale. Another whale spouted out near Point Bonita. We also spotted a few harbor porpoises in the strait.
We decided to continue on and attempt the islands despite the wind. We turned north towards Bolinas and slowly made our way up the coast, noting a large amount of bird activity and a rainbow off our bow.
Eventually we turned west, observing several sea lions resting on a channel marker. The weather started to improve.
Eight miles from the islands we began to see big spouts. A group of 5 whales surfaced about 200 yards from our boat, spouting in synchrony. Their tall dorsal fin and huge size identified them as fin whales.
The fins swam all around the area, sticking together for the most part. The swell was big, so we could see them surfacing on top of large waves.
There were spouts all around us from fin whales and humpbacks, most at least 300-400 yards away. I counted at least 10 animals within 500 yards of us. We slowly continued our trek towards the islands.
When we first reached the islands, they were misty and gray. There were tons of common murres, gulls, pigeon guillemots, and cormorants in the air and water.
We first headed to Mirounga Bay, observing the sea lions on the rocks and some fur seals resting on Saddle Rock. As we floated, we observed more spouts farther out towards the continental shelf.
We saw a total of 3 tufted puffins, all flying in the air close to the islands.
We slowly made our way around the island. As we were heading towards Fisherman's Bay, we saw a spout at our stern. We quickly put the boat in neutral and waited. Then a gray whale popped up in a huge group of gulls who had been floating on the surface.
We saw the gray within 50 yards of the boat for a few minutes before it started heading east. Then we continued on to Fisherman's Bay.
Above Fisherman's Bay we could see thousands of nesting murres on the islands. Three Canada Geese flew by.
Eventually we turned towards land and started back home. Five miles from the islands we saw more spouts. Initially I saw some more fin whales. Then there was a huge spout and the unmistakable light gray body of a blue whale. More whales spouted in the distance.
We went another five miles and found a humpback, who breached twice. We continued past it.
We saw nothing else until we were almost back to the Golden Gate Strait. There, near Mile Rock, we found two humpbacks. They were potentially a mother and calf.
The smaller whale breached over and over again, slowly moving west.
The larger whale surfaced a lot less often. Near the end, the smaller one also started slapping its tail and pectoral fins on the water.
It was a fantastic finale for our trip!