muir beach

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: October 10, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

2pm:

On this trip we headed north up the Marin coast. We found a humpback whale near Muir Beach.

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The whale was moving north but seemed to be feeding as it went. We saw a few small lunge feeds and there was some bird activity above the whale. We also spotted anchovies at the surface.

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The whale was very close to the rocky reef and shoreline. We followed it north all the way to Steep Ravine.

Sightings Report: September 5, 2018

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

8am:

We started out on a cold and foggy morning. We started northwest and found a single humpback.

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The whale was not showing its fluke. We saw it surface several times as it traveled around the area.

11am:

On our second trip we headed back to the same spot. Visibility had improved.

We found a humpback whale a little bit closer to shore than on the previous trip. This whale did show us a few fluke dives.

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Birds were hovering over the whale, indicating some potential feeding activity.

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 25, 2018

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed north towards Muir Beach. There was a lot of bird activity in the area, suggesting it was a good feeding spot.

We found one humpback whale near the birds. We were in shallow water, so the whale was not throwing flukes. It did approach within 100 yards of our boat.

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 25, 2017

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Happy Days

11am:

Our first trip of the day had beautiful conditions as we headed out to find whales. On our way out, we passed a few pigeon guillemots and common murres with chicks. We first went straight out into the shipping lane, then turned north to search up the Marin coastline. Several sea lions rested on one of the shipping lane buoys as we passed by. 

Brown pelican in flight. 

Brown pelican in flight. 

After some searching, we spotted one spout near Muir Beach. The spout and the whale were both small; it seemed to be heading north. We saw the fluke once before we needed to head back to port. On our way back in, we received reports that there had been a small whale at the Golden Gate Bridge one hour earlier that had seemed to be heading out, and we hypothesized that it was the same whale that we saw further down the coast. 

2pm: 

The weather was still nice as we headed out for our next trip. We pushed our speed, thinking we would need to go all the way back to Muir Beach to find the whales again but instead we spotted them right outside of Mile Rock. We had three humpbacks feeding and working the same spot, and saw several flukes. Two of the whales surfaced together and were a potential mother-calf pair. There was a lot of harbor porpoise and bird activity, with large groups of murres, pelicans, and cormorants feeding in the same spot.

Humpback whale!

Humpback whale!

On our way back to port, we recovered a lifejacket which was floating in the water and brought it back to the pier.

5pm:

On our last trip of the day, the three humpbacks feeding outside of Mile Rock were still there, along with many harbor porpoises and at least one harbor seal. The tide line was extremely frothy with a distinct difference in water color - we could see the bay water on one side, and the ocean water on the other, with a line of sea foam marking the boundary. The sea foam is caused by zooplankton, and often indicates a good feeding spot. 

Fog creeping in behind Point Bonita. 

Fog creeping in behind Point Bonita. 

Distinct fluke pattern from one humpback. We thought we recognized this individual from last year. 

Distinct fluke pattern from one humpback. We thought we recognized this individual from last year. 

We saw many flukes and spouts. The wind began to pick up and the fog started to set in as we headed back to port. 

All sightings were reported to the Coast Guard and to NOAA via the Whale Alert app. 

***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!***