kite surfer

Sightings Report: August 28, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

2pm: 

As we left port we passed over a distinct tide line where the water dramatically changed color between the ocean water and the bay water. Frothed zooplankton (sea foam) gathered along the line. 

Birds hovering over the spot where a whale is about to surface. 

Birds hovering over the spot where a whale is about to surface. 

We found 3-4 humpback whales outside the Golden Gate Bridge near Point Bonita. There was a lot of bird activity over each whale as they did fluke dives on all sides of us. 

Two of the whales, potentially a mother and calf, swam east into the Golden Gate Strait. We followed slowly and at a distance.

I spotted a mylar balloon in the water - the fourth one in two days. We did a man overboard drill to retrieve it. 

Balloon retrieved from water. 

Balloon retrieved from water. 

As we headed back in, we saw a humpback surface right in front of a large container ship underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. We called Vessel Traffic and made sure they had a visual on the whale before proceeding back to port. 

As we left, the fog was starting to gather around the bridge. 

5pm: 

As we left the dock a sea lion swam near the pilings. It was foggy, windy, and cold, but the tide was still coming in even as we left, so we expected to find the whales farther east than we had left them. The top of the tide was 5:15pm. 

We found the humpback under the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge feeding in over 300 feet of water.

We floated in neutral and it surfaced within 100 yards of us as tons of traffic sped around the area, including a multitude of kite surfers. One kite surfer came extremely close to a surfacing whale. 

We saw some fluke dives and some long dives where no fluke was shown. The dives lasted close to five minutes. We noticed lots of harbor porpoise on our way in. 

Elegant terns flying by. 

Elegant terns flying by. 

All sightings were reported to Vessel Traffic. 

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!

Sightings Report: July 22, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

3pm:

My first tour of the day started off with lots of excitement - we had barely pulled away from the dock when the captain shouted "whale!" There was actually a humpback whale almost at our dock. It headed back out into the bay, met two other whales between Pier 39 and Alcatraz and started to head west. We followed the flukes and spouts slowly at a safe distance, reporting our sighting and warning other nearby boats of the presence of the whales. There were lots of feeding sea lions near the pier, and many western gulls trying to take advantage of their catch. 

A sea lion and gull face off! Photo by SFWT photographer Jennifer Hendershott.

A sea lion and gull face off! Photo by SFWT photographer Jennifer Hendershott.

It had been foggy when we started our trip, but it started to clear up and the wind died down around 4:30pm. While we were floating just outside the Golden Gate Bridge, first mate Josh noticed a lone windsurfer outside the bridge struggling against a dying wind. We offered him a lift back to Pier 39 and he gladly accepted. We retrieved both him and his equipment from the water and headed back to the pier. We saw a lot of harbor porpoise activity on our way back to the dock. 

6pm: 

By the time we were back out, the weather was beautiful and we were able to zip out to Mile Rock by Land's End. There we found 6-8 humpbacks fluking and spouting. Two or three different whales came over to check out the Kitty Kat as we floated in neutral, and we saw a few flukes closer than 100 yards. 

Beautiful weather beyond the bridge, with Mile Rock in the distance. Photo by me. 

Beautiful weather beyond the bridge, with Mile Rock in the distance. Photo by me. 

We also spotted harbor porpoises and harbor seals, and I noticed some Common Murre parents with anchovies in their mouths headed for their squealing chicks.

All photos in this post by SFWT photographer Jennifer Hendershott unless stated otherwise.

***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!***