lunge feed

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 20, 2018

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

We had excellent weather as we headed out into the Gulf of the Farallones. We headed straight west for the Farallon Islands.

Just past the precautionary area we found a humpback near the Oceanic Society vessel, the Salty Lady.

There was also a seal carcass floating in the water. It had been there for a while and seemed to be headless. There were a few circular bites from cookie cutter sharks. The carcass was probably from an attack from a great white shark.

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As we headed farther out, we found more and more humpbacks. About 20 miles out we found a group of 10 within sight of us. One of them came 15 yards from the boat.

We saw several lunge feeds while the animals were close to us, indicating that they were feeding. There was also a lot of bird activity above the animals.

When we reached the Farallon Islands, we spotted another spout. This one was less regular, and after several minutes of observation we were able to identify it as a gray whale. We saw one fluke dive.

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Ron Elliot, the famous scuba diver, was diving at the Farallons to take footage of the sharks. The cage diving boat was out as well.

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The islands were full of California and Stellar’s sea lions, northern fur seals, and northern elephant seals.

We spent a while at the islands to see if we could spot any sharks, but none surfaced. We did spot lots of sea nettles and moon jellies.

When turned around and headed back to land, we spotted lots of humpback whales. Between the islands and the shipping lane we saw at least 10-15 whales, including several breaches.

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.

Sightings Report: July 21, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

3pm:

On this trip we went 13 miles offshore, past the last shipping lane buoys. There we found two pairs of humpbacks feeding. 

We saw several lunge feeds from these whales, as well as some fluke dives. 

There was one whale breaching in the distance. Another 7-8 miles from us there were tons of spouts, many of them very large. 

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There was lots of bird and porpoise activity in this area. 

The water was very flat and calm. A container ship passed by in the distance. 

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6pm:

On our next trip the water was even calmer than the previous trip. We went straight west through the shipping lane and found one of the pairs that we had seen on the previous trip. They had moved south while we were away. 

There were a few fluke dives from these animals. We saw more spouts farther away. 

We also spotted California sea lions resting on the shipping lane buoys and common murres with chicks in the water. 

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Sightings Report: July 17, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am:

On our first trip of the day we went north towards a large biological hotspot we'd spotted a few days before the trip. There were lots of fishermen there and we were unable to find any whales in the area. 

We turned west and found one travelling humpback seventeen miles from home. 

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There was a lot of bird activity and harbor porpoise activity. We had excellent weather and sea conditions despite a little fog. 

11am: 

We started off north on a tip from another boat. We were unable to locate the reported whale. After a while we made a big circle west, then turned south to the shipping lane. 

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We then spotted two humpback whales at the end of the shipping lane near the pilot boat. 

The farther whale was breaching continuously. The closer whale was not fluking. 

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We saw lots of harbor porpoises in the area as well as California and Steller's sea lions resting on the buoys. 

All photos from the 11am trip were taken by Patrick Sysiong. 

2pm: 

We headed straight back out to where we'd left the whales. They were still in the shipping lane near buoys 1 and 2. 

We had 4-5 humpbacks in the area, including a mother and calf. There were a few lunge feeds. 

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The calf was the most active of all the whales. We saw a tail slap, breach, and pectoral fin slap from the calf near the end of the trip.

We spotted some harbor porpoise activity on this trip as well. There were also California sea lions and common murres with chicks.

An outbound container ship diverted its course to go around us and the whales. 

5pm:

The whales were still in the same spot on our final trip of the day.

We saw several lunge feeds from the humpbacks and a few fluke dives. 

More container ships passed by us over the course of the trip.

We also spotted some California sea lions and common murres. 

Sightings Report: May 16, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am: 

We found two familiar whales lunge feeding together just past Mile Rock. 

They were feeding in 60 feet of water with lots of anchovies at the surface. 

The two whales started off farther apart from each other, but moved closer together over the course of the trip. 

We also noticed a lot of harbor porpoise activity. The water was perfectly calm and still. 

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11am: 

We went to the same spot as the previous trip, but didn't see any spouts. We continued west all the way out to the Pilot station, noting the California sea lions on the shipping lane buoys. The water was still very calm and flat. 

We saw lots of porpoise activity, but had yet to locate a whale. We started back towards Mile Rock and floated there for a while, searching for the spouts. We started to head north when we heard passengers reporting a spout. 

We found one humpback, the same individual who we had seen on the previous trip. The whale was lunge feeding near the shipping lane. 

We saw a lot of bird activity in this area, as well shipping traffic. We were also alerted that a whale had been hit by a container ship that morning near Oakland. 

Sightings Report: May 15, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

8am: 

The weather was very calm and clear. From the strait, we could see all the way to the Farallon Islands. 

Harbor porpoises were active all over the Golden Gate Strait. We also spotted some sea lions and harbor seals. 

We found two humpback whales southwest of Mile Rock with a huge group of cormorants.

The whales were diving in 100 feet of water, 33 of which was anchovies. 

We saw one lunge feed from these whales. They seemed to slowly be heading west. 

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11am: 

On our next trip we found the whales slightly father west than we'd left them. They were close to the shipping lane. There were two inbound ships and one outbound. 

The whales seemed to continue to move west on this trip. 

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We also spotted sea lions, seals, and porpoises.