humpback whale

Sightings Report: December 6, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed out into the Gulf of the Farallones with beautiful weather. There was sun, very little wind, and gentle swells. We spotted porpoises, sea lions, and harbor seals on our way out into the shipping lane.

About 13 miles west of the bridge we found our first humpback. The animal kept a distance from us and appeared to be travelling. It had a low spout which made us think it might be a gray whale at first.

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Off in the distance we spotted a huge group of birds and a couple spouts. We decided to leave the whale and approach the spot with more activity.

In this area we found two humpbacks. They were active and showed their flukes.

One of them stayed closer to us, once coming within 50 feet of the vessel.

We used happywhale.com to identify this whale as an unnamed individual in the North Pacific catalog. It had previously been seen in Monterey and Puerto Vallarta in 2016.

This whale rolled onto its side and showed us its pectoral fin.

Sightings Report: October 24, 2018

8 AM Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed out past the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Golden Gate Strait. A crew member spotted a whale near Mile Rock. It was a single humpback.

The humpback was feeding in an area with a lot of tidal action. We saw many lunge feeds as the whale fed on anchovies. We floated in the vicinity of the whale for a while before the whale began using the tide to come towards us. We saw at least one lunge feed within 50 yards of our boat.

As the tide came in, the whale moved towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We did not see fluke dives from the animal, but we were able to identify it based on the scars and markings on its body.

1 PM Sighting from Golden Gate Bridge

We only had one trip on the boat on this day, so after the tour a few members of Golden Gate Cetacean Research met on the Golden Gate Bridge to see if we could spot the whale.

The humpback had used the tide to move far into the bay. We could see it breaching and spouting near Alcatraz. At one point a large cruise ship passed by the whale.

While we waited for the tide to change, we photographed harbor seals and porpoises underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

We spotted several mother-calf pairs among the harbor porpoises.

We also witnessed porpoises chasing fish and at least one mating attempt.

We lost sight of the whale for a while. Then I finally spotted it near Fort Point, only a few hundred yards from the bridge. We managed to get a few photos before the whale swam under the bridge and came out on the other side.

The whale breached in the Golden Gate Strait and continued to move out with the tide.

Sightings Report: October 3, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

8am:

As we headed out on our first trip we had light eastern winds and flat seas. We headed south to Pacifica, where we found 6 humpbacks.

There were two pairs and two individuals all feeding in the same general area. There were lots of birds above each whale.

We saw feeding behavior and fluke dives spread out over a few miles.

There were a lot of moon jellies and sea nettles in the water.

11am:

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

We saw several fluke dives from this animal.

A few miles away as we made our way back in, another humpback breached and then dove 200 yards from the boat.

2pm:

On our last trip we returned to the same area a few miles off the coast. We went all the way to San Pedro before turning around and making our way back closer to the shore. Here we found three humpbacks.

One of them was close while the other two were farther away.

We saw one breach and one fluke dive from the closer animal.

Sightings Report: October 6, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we had a northwestern wind and swell which pushed us south to Pacifica. We found two humpback whales there.

We saw a few fluke dives and lots of bird activity near the whales, which were relatively close to shore. One of the whales breached 150 yards from the boat.

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When we started heading back, we had another whale within a hundred yards off our port bow. We waited for it to pass us before continuing onward.

Sightings Report: September 8, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

We headed out towards the Farallon Islands with heavy wind in the forecast. We started up the north coast to Bolinas, then turned west towards the islands.

The swell and wind were heavy, but we persevered and eventually made it to the Farallons.

The islands were covered in California sea lions, Stellar’s sea lions, and northern fur seals.

Near the islands we spotted several black footed albatrosses and a few tufted puffins.

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There were some murres near the islands, but they were finished with nesting for the year.

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Near the islands we spotted two feeding humpback whales. The whales threw flukes and surfaced in synchrony with each other.

Sightings Report: September 1, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

3pm:

We headed north on our search to find the whales. We spotted a humpback near Muir Beach.

We saw a few dives from this whale, but it was not showing its fluke. Birds were hovering above it, suggesting some feeding was happening.

We saw a breach from the whale from less than 100 yards away.

Sightings Report: August 30, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

On our first trip of the day we found two humpback whales just west of Point Bonita.

It was a mother and calf feeding together. We saw them lunge feed separately and in synchrony with one another.

There were several large ships moving past them as they fed.

The whales mostly kept their distance. At one point they approached to just over 100 yards before starting to swim west.

11am:

On our second trip we found a humpback whale a little ways west of where we’d left the mother and calf on our earlier trip.

This whale was throwing flukes, likely diving to feed on anchovies.

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Sightings Report: August 29, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

The sea conditions were perfect as we headed out in search of whales. We started off north, noting key signs like the presence of birds and fishermen. We found a humpback whale in this area.

The whale did several lunge feeds within 100 yards of the boat.

The birds followed the whale around, plucking anchovies from the surface.

11am:

It was slightly windier as we headed out on our second trip of the day. We found another humpback in the same area.

It showed its flukes, but was travelling and stayed at a distance from us.

Sightings Report: August 23, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

The water was calm and the sky was grey as we headed out for our first trip of the day. As we headed north, we saw the water start to boil with anchovies.

There was a lot of bird activity in the area as well.

There was a humpback whale nearby, close to Muir Beach.

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We did not see any flukes from this animal, as it was feeding in very shallow water.

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11am:

On our second trip we found the whale in a similar spot. There was still lots of food in the area and the humpback was definitely feeding.

We saw a few lunge feeds, including a couple that happened within 50 yards of the boat.

Near the end of the trip the whale moved farther from us and closer towards the shore, getting close to the rocky reef.

Sightings Report: August 22, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we headed north with calm water and foggy conditions. We found one humpback near Stinson Beach.

There were fishing vessels in the area as well. We saw a few fluke dives from the animal.

2pm:

We headed back to the area near Stinson Beach and found a different humpback feeding there.

We stayed with this animal for a while and saw several lunge feeds, a few of which were within 50 yards of the boat.

On our way back, we found another whale near Muir Beach. This whale traveled close to shore.

5pm:

We headed north again on this trip and found four humpback whales near Muir Beach. There were two individuals and one pair feeding cooperatively.

The pair swam in synchrony and may have been a mother and calf.

We saw several lunge feeds from these animals, including some that happened within 100 yards of the boat.

There was a lot of bird activity in the area. They focused on the areas above the whales where lots of anchovies had been stirred up and forced towards the surface by the lunge feeds.