fishing boats

Sightings Report: July 21, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had fog relatively high off the water and pretty good sea conditions. We had reports of whales northwest of the shipping lane, so we headed that way.

We found two humpbacks there in 80 feet of water.

We saw some fluke dives from these animals, who stayed close to each other the whole time they were feeding. At one point one of them did a full body roll. They appeared to be pushing the fish in between them.

Over the course of the trip the whales moved over a mile west.

There were fishing boats around us, as well as lots of birds and porpoises. We also saw some more spouts in the distance.

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12pm:

On our next trip we found whales in the same spot. There were still lots of fishing boats in the area. Sea conditions had improved from the morning trip.

We found six humpback whales in this area, all feeding in 84 feet of water. We saw some fluke dives from these animals as well.

Some large ships passed by us while we observed the whales. We stayed with them for about 40 minutes. We also spotted some common murre fathers with their chicks.

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3pm:

By our afternoon trip the conditions were beautiful. It was sunny and glassy calm out in the shipping lane, where we first found one humpback whale close to our boat. Additional spouts were off in the distance.

The first whale spouted 150 yards from us. We stopped the boat, floated in neutral and were surprised to see the whale pop up 10 yards from the boat and fluke dive.

The whale surfaced again farther from the boat, just as a ship was passing.

After that whale was 300 yards away from us, we continued out towards a group of 3-4 humpbacks that were near the pilot boat.

These whales were surfacing in synchrony.

There were lots of birds hovering around them, indicating that they were feeding.

We saw several lunge feeds from these animals. The highlight was a quadruple lunge feed where all four whales came up at once.

We got lots of fluke dives from these animals, but none of them are currently in our catalog.

The whales were slowly moving west. We were able to spend about 45 minutes with them before we had to head back to the dock.

Sightings Report: July 19, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day, we found one humpback feeding among the fishing fleet. There were both inboard and outboard motorboats, along with some ships passing by in the shipping lane. The whale was there for the same reason as the fisherman: to get food.

We also saw birds hovering and feeding in the area. We didn’t see any fluke dives from this whale, but we had big wind waves that made viewing more difficult.

2pm:

Conditions improved on our 2pm as the southwesterly wind began to die off. We headed out to the end of the shipping lane, turned around to start to head home, and found a humpback whale right in front of us.

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We saw a couple of lunge feeds from this animal within 50 yards of the boat. Birds hovered over the spots where the whale was feeding.

The whale was in 100 feet of water.

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Sightings Report: July 18, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we headed west towards the end of the shipping lane. There we found one humpback whale feeding in 86 feet of water.

We spotted birds hovering over the whale and anchovies on the fish finder. There were some fishing boats nearby the whale as well.

From some quick looks at the whale’s fluke, we were able to identify the individual as Lotus.

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It was foggy, but we had decent sea conditions for viewing the whale. We stayed with the animal for about 40 minutes.

2pm:

On our next trip we returned to the same spot and found the same whale, Lotus, still feeding in 94 feet of water.

Another whale had joined Lotus. We also saw splashes and spouts from whales in the distance.

The fishing boats were still present in the area.

Sightings Report: June 29, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had calm, sunny conditions. We found whales several miles west of Stinson Beach.

There were about four whales in the area, which was around 110 feet deep.

We saw lots of activity in this area from birds, fishermen, and whales. There were also anchovies on the fish finder. The whales were lunge feeding and gave a few fluke dives.

From one fluke we were able to identify #38 in our catalog.

We stayed with these animals for about 30 minutes.

12pm:

By our next trip, the conditions had deteriorated and we had a lot more wind. We returned to the same spot as earlier and found two humpback whales feeding near some small fishing vessels.

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Sightings Report: September 6th, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am

On this tour we headed 8.5 miles offshore, just west of the shipping lane. We were alerted by the Pilot vessel to the presence of whales in the area.

We were positioned outside the lane with views of at least eight humpbacks in the area.

One whale repeatedly breached close to fishing boats. We also observed the whale slapping its pectoral fins and its tail.

There were anchovies at the surface and lots of feeding birds in the area.

We spotted parasitic, pomarine, and long-tailed jaegers attempting to steal food from other birds.

We were able to catch a whiff of whale breath on this trip as well.

The fishing fleet was close by, and we saw a few whales approach the fishing vessels.

We also had a few ships pass by us.

Sightings Report: August 2, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

We had foggy weather for our first trip of the day. We were able to locate two humpback whales, who we identified as Gator and Topspot.

We saw a few fluke dives from these animals.

There was lots of bird activity around the area, as well as some active fishing vessels.

11am:

We found another humpback in about the same area on our next trip. We saw a few fluke dives from a distance.

This whale was different from the two we saw on our earlier trip. It was also exhibiting feeding behaviors.

Sightings Report: August 21, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

2pm: 

We found our humpbacks out in the shipping lane, where a mother and calf were feeding together. We saw fluke dives from both and I noted that it was the same pair of whales we had been seeing for the past few days. 

The whale's blowhole and dorsal fin.

The whale's blowhole and dorsal fin.

The calf floated on its side with one pectoral fin and one of the lobes of its fluke sticking up in the air. 

The calf floating on its side.

The calf floating on its side.

A large container ship came in the shipping lane while we were observing the whales. A few times the calf came within 100 yards of us while diving. 

A common murre chick with its father.

A common murre chick with its father.

We had beautiful weather and floated in neutral in 60 feet of water to watch these whales feed. On our way back in we had harbor porpoises and harbor seals. Near Alcatraz we saw a California sea lion with a halibut in its mouth being mobbed by a swarm of western gulls. 

Brown pelican in flight.

Brown pelican in flight.

5pm:

We headed out to the same spot we had found the whales on the last trip and found a single humpback there. As we were waiting for it to resurface, I spotted a breach on the other side of the shipping lane. We decided to head to that spot. 

A humpback fluke with an interesting shape.

A humpback fluke with an interesting shape.

Across the shipping lane at least 7 humpbacks were feeding in groups of 2-3. A few calves were present. I noted in particular one group of two adults and one calf feeding together and surfacing in synchrony. 

The whales were feeding in 84 feet of water and many fishing boats were working within one mile of our spot. We saw several more spouts on the horizon, indicating that there were likely at least 10-12 whales in the general area. 

Each of the groups of whales had a huge cloud of birds diving over them. The bird activity was mostly comprised of brown pelicans and western gulls. 

Birds and spouts.

Birds and spouts.

We saw two lunge feeds, which was very exciting for the birds. One whale with a gnarled fluke turned on its side, showing us one pectoral fin and half of its fluke. 

Humpback pectoral fin.

Humpback pectoral fin.

As we left the area, I spotted one more breach on the horizon. 

On this trip we also saw California sea lions resting on the shipping lane buoy and some harbor porpoises with their calves. 

Sea lions rest on the buoy in the shipping lane.

Sea lions rest on the buoy in the shipping lane.

All sightings were reported to Vessel Traffic and NOAA using the Whale Alert app. 

***If you were on one of these trips and have photos, send them in to info.whalegirl@gmail.com! I'd love to add them to this post for others to enjoy (with credit to you). Thank you!***