tamalpais charters

Sightings: 9/22/19

Sightings from Tamalpais Charters vessel Tamalpais

On this trip with Tamalpais Charters we headed west underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, spotting harbor porpoises and some California sea lions. There was a lot of bird activity in the Golden Gate Strait. We spotted elegant terns, common murres, brown pelicans, western, California,  and Heerman’s gulls. 


We headed out west towards the north bar. On our way we stopped to look at a young mola mola (ocean sunfish). There were tons of porpoises in this area as well. 


As we headed farther west, we spotted a couple of spouts on the horizon. We ended up with a whale on either side of us and were able to spot one fluke dive. 


We approached the other of the two whales, whose dorsal fin I recognized as a whale named Akula. 


Akula appeared to be resting. She swam in large circles, surfacing every few minutes. At one point she approached the boat within 50 yards. 


After spending about 40 minutes with these whales we started our journey back to Tiburon, spotting a couple of parasitic jaegers and several types of cormorants along the way. 

Sightings: 9/8/19

Sighting from Tamalpais Charters vessel The Tamalpais for the Marine Mammal Center


On this special trip for the Marine Mammal Center, we headed west towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We spotted a few harbor porpoises near Cavallo Spire and some harbor seals close to the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.


As we headed out through the strait, we noticed lots of bird activity. There were a variety of types of birds present, including elegant terns, parasitic jaegers, brown pelicans, common murres, and Brandt’s cormorants.

Right around the demarcation line we spotted the first spout. It was a humpback whale. One of the first behaviors we saw was a body roll, where we got a good look at the pectoral fin of the humpback.

The whale was surfacing every few minutes and arching its back to dive, but we weren’t seeing any flukes from the animal at first.

The whale was definitely feeding. Birds hovered all around the spots where it surfaced, attempting to get the leftover anchovies.


The animal slowly moved west past the demarcation line. As we followed, we spotted a second spout.

We saw a shallow fluke dive from this animal which will hopefully help us identify the individual.

The wind was increasing and the tide was beginning to ebb, so we eventually started heading back in to the bay. On our way back to Tiburon, we stopped by Pier 39 to look at the sea lions.

There were also lots of birds in the area.

We also took a look at some of the whale bones on Angel Island, where the Marine Mammal Center performs their necropsies.

Sightings: 7/26/19

Sighting from Tamalpais Charters vessel The Tamalpais for the Marine Mammal Center.

On Friday morning, the Marine Mammal Center staff set out on a charter of the Tamalpais to find some whales. First stop was to check out the harbor seals hanging out on the docks at Angel Island.

Next we headed out to the shipping lane, where the conditions were beautiful. There was very little wind or swell, although there was some cold fog.

Near buoys 3 and 4 we found the first humpback whale. We were on the tip of the north bar, so the water was only 32 feet deep. More whales started to be reported in the area from the pilot boat and fishing boats. We followed them as they moved to the south side of the shipping lane. We were also seeing more spouts on the horizon, numbering at least ten in total.

We saw lots of activity from these animals, including a few breaches, body rolls, and pectoral fin slaps.

We also saw a few coordinated lunge feeds.

We slowly moved west with the humpbacks until we were about 14 miles offshore in 95 feet of water. Once the whales were in deeper water we started to see more of their fluke dives.

Thank you to Tamalpais Charters for a great trip!