humpback

Sightings Report: August 18, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

9am:

For our first trip we headed 15 miles west, past the shipping lane. We had wet conditions on the way out due to a coastal southerly wind.

Once out there we spotted two humpback whales; one was closer to us, while the other was farther off. We paralleled the closer whale for several minutes as it travelled.

The whale was not feeding. No food appeared to be present in the area.

There was some shipping activity in the lane. We spotted some big splashes from the farther whale, suggesting that it was breaching.

12pm:

The whales were a little bit closer on our second trip, although the southerly had increased and the way out was very wet. We found three humpbacks in about 85 feet of water.

One of the whales was closer to us with a small spout. We observed this animal for several minutes before sighting the other two on the other side of the shipping lane.

We saw some fluke dives from these animals. We had anchovies on the fish finder and birds in the area, suggesting that there was food.

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We saw some inbound container ships. The two far whales swam directly in front of the ship before safely popping up behind it. Then they swam across our bow.

3pm:

By the final trip of the day, the conditions had improved and it was less wet than the previous trips. We returned to the same area, where we found three humpbacks in 107 feet of water.

The humpbacks were feeding, but moved around quite a bit as they did so.

One of the whales did a close approach on the stern of our vessel. As it came closer, we were able to identify this whale as Akula. This was the third time we had seen Akula this week.

We spent about 35 minutes with these animals before heading back to the dock.

Sightings Report: August 17, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

9am:

On our first trip of the day we found humpbacks whales about 14 miles offshore, close to the pilot station. There were nine whales in the area feeding in 100 feet of water.

We saw fluke dives from these animals, as well as lunge feeding. There was one coordinated lunge feed with two whales.

The whales in the area moved around a lot. Different groups were constantly moving apart and coming together.

There were birds hovering over the whales and anchovies on the fish finder. We stayed with the whales for about 30 minutes.

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12pm:

On our next trip we found the whales several miles east of the previous location. The whales were near buoys 1 and 2, directly in the shipping lane.

There were four humpbacks feeding in 60 feet of water.

We saw fluke dives and some coordinated lunge feeding from these whales. Large ships and the pilot boat were nearby.

There were lots of birds in the area, particularly shearwaters. The birds were flushed from the surface of the water by the whales several times.

We stayed with these animals for about 45 minutes. There were another 2-3 spouts in the distance as well.

3pm:

On our final trip of the day we found one whale in almost the exact same spot, directly in the shipping lane.

After seeing a few spouts and getting a good look at the dorsal fin, we identified the whale as Akula - a frequent visitor to this area.

Akula wasn’t fluke diving, but after a few minutes she began tail slapping, allowing us to get a good look at the orca tooth rakes on her fluke.

There were anchovies on the fish finder and birds hovering over Akula, so it is likely she was feeding. We stayed with Akula for about 40 minutes.

There were ships present over the course of the trip. We also saw a large sunfish come down the side of our boat.

There were California sea lions on the shipping lane buoys as well.

Sightings Report: August 7, 2019

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we found whales right off of Mussel Rock Park in Daly City. 5 humpbacks were feeding in the area in about 40 feet of water.

We saw fluke dives, lunges, and other feeding behaviors from these animals. We had some hovering birds and anchovies on the fish finder.

One whale approached close to the boat.

Two of the whales were a possible cow-calf pair. They spent a lot of time next to each other.

2pm:

On our next trip we returned to the same spot and found one travelling humpback whale.

It was swimming in 45 feet of water. There were some outboard fishing vessels in the area, as well as birds and anchovies.

There was another humpback whale in the distance as well.

Sightings Report: August 1, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we headed south towards Pacifica. We ended up spotting one humpback whale just north of Mussel Rock.

We saw fluke dives from this animal, as well as some body rolls. The whale was probably feeding.

The whale was in 44 feet of water. Another whale was spotted in the distance as well.

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There were birds and anchovies present, suggesting that the whale was feeding. There were also tons of common murres with their chicks. We spent about 30 minutes with the animal.

2pm:

On our next trip we found a different humpback whale at the end of the shipping lane, 12 miles offshore. This whale was feeding as well.

We saw lunge feeding and fluke dives from this animal, who was in about 55 feet of water.

We had some California sea lions on the shipping lane buoys. The pilot boat was nearby as well. We had lots of bird activity in the area and anchovies on the fish finder. We spent about 30 minutes with the whale.

Sightings Report: July 25, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we headed out parallel to the shipping lane. We ended up finding a humpback whale a few hundred yards southwest of the shipping lane buoys.

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The whale was feeding in an area with a lot of boat activity, including everything from large container ships to small outboard motor fishing boats.

We were not seeing fluke dives from this animal except for one shallow dive. It was feeding in 60 feet of water. We did see some lunge feeding, though!

We were able to spend about 45 minutes with this animal. There were also porpoises and seabirds in the area as well.

2pm:

On our next trip we found humpback whales in almost the exact same spot. This time there were about 5 whales in the area.

The whales were feeding in 51 feet of water. There were fluke dives and lunge feeds from the animals, who moved pretty continuously over the trip.

We had birds, porpoises, and lots of ship traffic in the area as well.

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We also spotted one breach on this trip.

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.

Passenger Andreas Schremmer captured some great photos of the whale and birds in the area. Many thanks for sending these over!

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: 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.