fin whale

Sightings Report: June 3, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

There was wind in the forecast as we set out towards the Farallon Islands on Saturday morning. We made our way out through the Golden Gate Strait, sighting a couple of spouts by Mile Rock. We decided to continue past the whales in hopes of beating the wind to the islands. 

We turned north and headed up the coast until we hit Bolinas. We then turned west and continued for twenty miles in sunshine and relatively calm water. 

7 miles from the islands the sun disappeared behind a thick layer of fog and the wind picked up. At one point a humpback popped up 50 yards from our boat. We saw it spout once more before it disappeared.

It was slow going through rough water for those last few miles, but we made it. We headed for Mirounga Bay so that we could have the swell at our back as we explored the islands. Murres, guillemots, cormorants and gulls all circled the islands and rested on the rocks. 

We also spotted elephant seals, Stellar's sea lions and California sea lions on the islands and in the water close to shore. 

Weanling elephant seal taking a look at us.

Weanling elephant seal taking a look at us.

We stayed on the lee side of the island, then slowly started the push home. A few minutes into our return journey we saw a large spout. We stopped and floated while a fin whale approached us to 30 yards, swimming around our port side to the stern before disappearing. 

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As we continued our journey back to port, the weather slowly improved. We noticed some sea lions resting on the shipping lane buoys and some harbor porpoise in the channel. 

As we continued in, we found one humpback underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw a couple of fluke dives from this animal. 

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There were also a lot of harbor seals near the bridge. It was still very windy when we made it back to port. 

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Sightings Report: May 13, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am Farallons Trip: 

We had just started on our Farallon Islands trip when we found a humpback whale just outside the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw a fluke dive and decided to continue past it to increase our chances of making it to the islands. 

There was a southern wind to 10 knots forecasted, but we had pretty much no wind as we headed west. We were able to make good time and covered twenty miles quickly. At one point the captain reported a leatherback turtle, but we were unable to locate it. We did see several large Pacific Sea Nettles. 

A red necked phalarope near the Farallon Islands. 

A red necked phalarope near the Farallon Islands. 

Eight miles from the islands we started to see spouts. There was a group of five humpbacks swimming very close together, surfacing in synchrony. 

Humpback whales. 

Humpback whales. 

There were a couple of huge spouts from blue whales. At one point, a fin whale surfaced 75 yards from us. There was also a large group of common murres in this area, along with other bird species. 

Blue whale. 

Blue whale. 

One of the humpbacks came 50 yards from our boat. It seemed to be on the small side. Most of these whales were not doing fluke dives. 

We also saw a black-footed albatross gliding ahead of us and land on the water. 

We also saw a sea lion floating in the water in this area. We picked up a balloon as well. 

We continued on towards the islands. Observers at the lighthouse informed us that there were orcas near the continental shelf, so we went past the islands and continued five miles past them in search of the orcas. We saw no spouts of any kind, but there were a lot of birds in the area. 

A couple more albatrosses were flying near us. We were in 2500 feet of water, with lots of krill. I was surprised that there were absolutely no spouts. 

We slowly made our way back to the islands, coming around to Mirounga Bay and working our way east. The islands were full of sea lions, murres, cormorants and gulls. 

We saw several tufted puffins, both in the air and floating on the water. 

Eventually we started to make our way back towards the Golden Gate. On our way back we had several whale sightings from a distance. 


We headed out for our final trip of the day. Passengers spotted a spout underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. It took a while to spout again, but when it did we were able to confirm that it was a gray whale. 

There was a huge amount of ship traffic, both inbound and outbound. 

We observed some harbor seals and harbor porpoises in this spot as well. 

Eventually we decided to continue out and find humpbacks. We found three out past Mile Rock, including some familiar flukes. Two of them were staying pretty close together. 


The whales were near a big group of cormorants. 

Near the end of our observation period, a humpback surfaced 75 yards off our port bow and swam to our starboard stern.