fluke

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 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: 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: July 14, 2019

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

12pm:

After an extremely foggy morning trip, we found a humpback whale just a couple miles from Point Bonita.

The whale was traveling through about 50 feet of water.

There were big groups of birds and anchovies present, as well as some small fishing boats.

We did see fluke dives from this animal and were able to identify it as #11 in our catalog.

Sightings Report: July 5, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day, we found two humpbacks feeding southwest of the shipping lane.

The whales were in 122 feet of water with bait on the fish finder. They traveled over a mile in the time that we were observing them. We saw one tail slap from the animals as well.

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There was also a resting sea lion nearby.

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2pm:

On our next trip we found more humpback whales in roughly the same spot. They were still feeding in 129 feet of water.

These whales were quite active. We were able to spot some lunge feeding, breaching, and even pectoral fin slapping.

There were birds hovering over the whales and anchovies on the fish finder.

We saw a few fluke dives from these animals. Two of the whales were diving in synchrony.

We spent about 40 minutes with these animals.

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: 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 23, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we found two traveling humpbacks several miles off of Muir Beach.

They were in about 80 feet of water. We saw a breach and a pectoral fin as the whale rolled on its side.

There was some bird activity, particularly over anchovy bait balls.

We stayed with the whales for about 30 minutes before heading back to port.

2pm:

On the next trip we headed straight west. As we were heading out, we got a report from the Outer Limits that several humpbacks had been seen near buoys 7 and 8. We headed there, but didn’t see anything.

We headed to the northwest and found three feeding humpbacks in the area.

They were lunge feeding, rolling onto their sides, and one was slapping its pectoral fin.

There was bird activity in the area, and we could see bait balls shimmering at the surface.

The whales were in 75 feet of water.

We spent about 35 minutes with these whales, then headed towards the Golden Gate Strait. We were just outside Point Bonita when the captain spotted another humpback whale.

The whale had surfaced just a hundred yards northwest of the lighthouse. We waited a few minutes and were rewarded with a fluke dive from Mercedes Benz - number 12 in our catalog. This whale is a frequent visitor to San Francisco - we’ve seen it every year since 2016.

Sightings Report: June 22, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

9am:

On our first trip of the day we found one humpback whale about ten miles west of Stinson Beach.

The whale was feeding in 90 feet of water.

We saw one fluke dive and some lunge feeding from this animal. A few small fishing boats with outboard motors passed by us.

There wasn’t much on the fish finder, but we did see birds diving and hovering over the whales. We spent about 30 minutes with them before heading back to port.

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12pm:

On our second trip we found a humpback whale feeding in roughly the same area.

The depth was around 85 feet and we spotted birds hovering over the whale.

We spent just over half an hour with this animal before heading back to port. Photos on this trip were taken by naturalist Michael Pierson.

3pm:

On this trip we found a humpback whale in roughly the same spot as the morning trip. Over the course of the trip the whale headed south, moving from 85 feet of water to 35 feet over a few minutes.

We saw lots of feeding activity from this whale, including lunge feeds, fluke dives, and body rolls.

There appeared to be haystacks of krill on the fish finder. We stayed with the whale for about 35 minutes.

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!