09-24-2017: Incredible Lunge-feeding Event for Afternoon Trip, Nice Conditions All Day Long, Beautiful Sunset

Lunge-feeding Humpback Whale

Two humpback whales lunge-feed together. Off Moss Landing. Photo: Sack, 09-24-2017 www.sanctuarycruises.com

Check some awesome video from today’s trip

Fall conditions are really setting in. We had incredible conditions all day long today. On the 02:00 pm trip we were lucky enough to get on a handful of humpbacks that were engaged in some serious surface feeding behavior.

Lunge-feeding Monterey Bay Whale

More lunge-feeding. These animals were doing this every 3-5 minutes for about an hour. Incredible encounter. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 09-24-2017

These things were coming up every 3-5 minutes with their mouths wide open. We call this vertical lunge-feeding. This is when these 45-foot long humpback whales chase schools of anchovies up out of the water with their gaping mouths wide open.

Monterey Bay Risso's Dolphins

Risso’s dolphins cruising. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 09-24-2017

We also had great looks at Risso’s dolphins and common dolphins. We haven’t seen the common dolphins for weeks. So that was great to see them together with the Risso’s dolphins.

Monterey Bay Lunge-feeding Humpback Whale

Here they go again. Photo: Sack.

It’s quite a spectacle. They will usually expose their baleen, the roof of their mouth (palate) and their massive, pinkish throat pleats that are usually laden with barnacles. Their baleen is that finger nail and hair-like structure that hangs down from their upper jaw. They use it like a sieve to filter out fish and krill from the sea water when they lunge-feed.

Monterey Bay Humpback whales on the prowl

Monterey Bay Humpback whales on the prowl. Photo: Sack

Sunset Aboard The Sanctuary

We’ve been having some incredible sunsets in Moss Landing lately. I love the Fall here. Photo: Sack

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09-23-2017: Same Killer Whales for Five Days in Row

Monterey Bay Killer Whales

More killer whales on the prowl. Photo: Sack 09-23-2017.

Check out a video clip from today

We’ve had an incredible run of killer whales for the last five days. They’ve mainly been hunting sea lions. Upon closer looks at photo’s we’ve been taking, we also see that they’ve taken at least on Pacific white-sided dolphin.

Moss Landing Orca

An orca breaches just outside of Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Welch

I’m sure they’re taking harbor seals and elephant seals when they find those too. Beautiful conditions for morning and 02:00 pm trips.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales

But by the 05:00 pm trip conditions deteriated. It got pretty ugly out there. But we did come across a couple of lunge-feeders on the way in just outside of the Moss Landing Harbormouth. So that was nice.

California Brown Pelican cruises.

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09-20-2017: Humpback Whales and Lively Orcas, Nice Conditions

Moss Landing killer whales

A young killer whale breaches. Photo: Sack 09-20-2017.

We had reports early on of orcas just outside the harbor. So as soon as we left the harbor-mouth we made a course and headed to the orca action going on about ten-minutes out.

Moss Landing killer whales

More breaching. Photo: Sack


Turns out there were five of them picking off sea lions for most of the morning and into the early afternoon. And these were an active group. We had some really close swimbys.
Moss Landing Sea Lions

This is what it looks like when orcas attack a herd of sea lions from below. Photo: Sack


Including a couple of young ones breaching next to the boat. At one point two of the younger ones were doing double breaches together. A fantastic encounter.

They would approach a large raft of sea lions and cause a sea lion stampede pretty regularly.

Moss Landing Killer Whales


Moss Landing Sea Lion

Moss Landing Sea Lion

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09-17-2017: Scattered Humpbacks, Sea Lions Feeding Together, Breaching Humpbacks and More

Monterey Bay Lungefeeding Humpback Whale
We’ve been having scattered humpbacks lately. But they’re putting a great show once we get to the right spot.

Monterey Bay Lungefeeding Humpback Whale

Random lunges. It was hard to predict. They were pretty much coming up one at a time. Photo: Sack

Early on we heard reports of feeding humpbacks just off the beach in Marina. But we wanted to at least get a couple of looks at a lone humpback feeding just outside of Moss Landing Harbor. We had a couple of ok looks, but after the first 10 minute dive cycle we decided to make a course for the 45 minute run to Marina.

Moss Landing Sea Otter

A mating pair of southern sea otters. Photo: Sack

It was a good call. We had a lot of feeding humpbacks, sea lions and birds. Also the occasional vertical surface lunge. I love turning the engines off and listening to all the mayhem. It’s quite a spectacle with all the birds going crazy, sea lions barking and whales blowing.

Monterey Bay Common Murre

A father common murre looks for it’s chick to feed it an anchovy. Everything seems to be feeding on the anchovies. Photo: Sack

So that’s what we had in the morning. It was a little lumpy to get down there for the after noon trip. Plus we had a handful of humpbacks right out front and for a 2-hour trip it makes more sense to hang with what we had. We also had a nice breacher for the evening trip. So that was great. This thing breached 3-4 times right in front of the boat. I love when that happens.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

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Monterey Bay Risso's Dolphins

Risso’s dolphin cruising.

Conditions were gorgeous for most of the trip. Forecast winds and storms were nowhere to be found in the morning, so we spent some time just cruising through scattered humpbacks feeding with sea lions and common murres just below the surface.

Monterey Bay Whale Another young chronic breacher. Photo: Sack, 09-05-2017

The we headed out further and encountered 100+ Risso’s dolphins, with a few pacific white-sided dolphins mixed in. Breaching and tail slapping from the Risso’s was accompanied by occasional bow-riding from the playful white-sided dolphins. So that was fun.

The most exciting part of our trip was just a bit farther west from the Risso’s, where we encountered a group of killer whales! One big male, a mother and calf, and another female were joined by three other killer whales over the course of an hour. Then the wind started picking up so we had to leave the killer whales and start heading back toward Moss Landing.

On the eight-mile ride back in we enjoyed sunshine, sea nettle jellies, and a few ocean sunfish! We even had a very quick glimpse of a mako shark’s dorsal fin.

A total of four cetacean species, jellies, interesting fish, lots of birds, a shark, otters, seals, and sea lions- what a day!

Check out the archives

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08-31-2017: Fall Conditions Are Here and The Humpbacks Are Continue The Feeding Frenzy In Front of Moss Landing

Moss Landing Humpback Whale A massive humpback whale  lunge-feeds next to our boat. Photo: Sack, 08-29-2017

Incredible encounter on the afternoon trip a couple of days ago. It was hard to leave. These things were feasting on anchovies at the surface for over an hour. When we left they were still going strong.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch These things were feasting for well over an hour. I probably should have came back out after the trip. Photo: Sack

These things were feasting for well over an hour. I probably should have came back out after the trip. Photo: Sack

Monterey Bay Lunge-feeding Humpback Whales Double lunge-feed. Photo: Sack

I was bummed that my video camera malfunctioned so I didn’t get any great video. But I did manage to get some incredible stills. Luckily on the way in I figured out what was up with my video camera. So hopefully today we will get some more of this.

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08-15-2017: Incredible Humpback Whale Spectacle Feeding With Sea Lions in Front of Moss Landing

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales This humpback kept spyhoping. This is when they pop their big head out of the water to take a look around. Photo: Sack

Moss Landing Humpback Whales Humpback whale in front the Moss Landing Marine Lab building just outside of Moss Landing Harbor. Photo; Sack

Moss Landing Mola Mola Lots of Mola Molas out in the Monterey Bay right now. Photo: Sack

Monterey Bay Mola Mola Mola Mola

Moss Landing continues to be the spot to be for whale watching. We’re on the action within ten minutes from leaving the harbor. Kind of funny the hundreds of people coming out on the boats from Monterey have to spend over an hour before they see anything. All the Monterey Bay whale watching boats end up right in front of our harbor in front of Moss Landing.

Monterey Bay Sea Lions We’ve been seeing hundreds of sea lions feeding right in the middle of the mighty humpback whales. Photo: Sack

Be whale wise and come out of Moss Landing. We’re on the action within minutes from leaving the harbor. Not to mention you won’t be elbow to elbow with 150 strangers per boat. We only take about 30 people per trip on the Sanctuary. It’s a much better experience.

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08-09-2017: Humpback Whales Still Feeding in Large Numbers in Front of Moss Landing, Risso’s Dolphins Show up, Elephant Seals and More

Moss Landing Humpback Whales Humpback whales fluke up as they go down for a dive. Photo: Michael Sack, 08-09-2017

Check out this incredible friendly whale encounter we had a few days ago. Just amazing. Friendly humpback Whale Video

The amazing humpback whale action continues just outside the Moss Landing Harbor. This is the new normal for Moss Landing. It’s been really incredible. We’ve also has excellent marine conditions. Smooth and calm. Although today the conditions whipped up pretty bad in the afternoon but calmed as the sunset.

Monterey Bay Risso's Dolphins Risso’s dolphins show up a little further out. Photo: Michael Sack, 08-09-2017.

Speaking of sunsets, the sun was nearly red when it when down tonight. Pretty crazy colors. It looks like we’re starting to get into our fall cycle. This is by far the best time to come to the Monterey Bay area.

Moss Landing Sunset Sunset in Moss Landing. Photo: Michael Sack, 08-09-2017.

The weather can be fantastic. More sunshine, warm conditions and incredible sun rises and sunsets. Plus the whales seem to ramp up the feeding behavior before they head to Southern Mexico and Central America for the winter to breed and give birth. There is not a lot food for them down there, so they will not eat for 3-4 months during that time. And they know this. So they are doing their last feast for a few months.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales Humpback whales working together feeding. Photo: Michael Sack, 08-09-2017.

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07-31-2017: Humpback Whale Surface Feeding Continues in Front of Moss Landing

Check out this humpback whale lunge-feeding video.
Here is some drone footage from yesterday morning’s trip! You can not only see the humpback whales lunge feed among the sea lions, but watch for them underneath the surface as they twist and turn, constantly chasing the anchovy bait ball. It is a thrill to be able to watch this behavior from a bird’s eye view!
Filmed by: Chase Dekker, www.sanctuarycruises.com

The lunge-feeding continues out in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Dekker.

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07-24-2017: Many Humpbacks Within a Few Minutes of Moss Landing, More Blue Whales Starting to Show Up

Moss Landing Humpback Whale This humpback jumped about 10 times. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017

The action continues out in front of Moss Landing. Many humpbacks just outside of the harbor. There were also blue whales starting to move in. We were on two of them about five-miles out. We could see many more blue whale blasts further out to the west. Stay tuned for what happens today.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Here it is again doing a chin slap. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017.

Monterey Bay Blue Whale We saw what appeared to be many blue whales moving into the Monterey Bay today. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017.

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06-29-2017: “Fat Fin” The Killer Whale Shows Up Again, Humpbacks, Dolphins and More

Moss Landing Killer Whale “Fat Fin” the killer whale out in front of Moss Landing Harbor.

Second day in a row we saw “Fat Fin” the killer whale. This orca is a frequent visitor to the Monterey Bay. The Humpbacks have scattered a bit compared to last week. We’ve only had a handful right out front instead of the 20 or so some-odd we’ve been seeing for the last couple of months.

Monterey Bay Pacific White-Sided Dolphin Pacific white-sided dolphin rides our wake alongside the boat.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Humpback whale cruising for krill off Moss Landing.

They’re still around, just not concentrated. We’re still getting some great looks and reports of many whales throughout the Monterey Bay. Nice conditions overall. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

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06-05-2017: Many Humbpacks Everywhere in The Bay, Biggest Concentrations off Moss Landing

Moss Landing Harbor Seal Friendly harbor seal just outside of Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Sack

The summer action is starting to kick into full-gear as more and more humpbacks start showing up through out the Monterey Bay. We’ve also been seeing Pacific white-sided dolhpins, Risso’s dolphins, Northern right-whale dolphins, black-footed albatross and a lot more.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Quite the lunge-fest we witnessed. We’ve been seeing regular lunge-feeding. Photo: Sack

Conditions have been nice in the morning with a little more lump and wind in the afternoon. Today we had a great look at a friendly harbor seal. The animal just casually swam alongside the boat and looked at everyone standing on the rail. It was pretty cool.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale We get on these lunge-feeding events and sometimes they last for hours or days, sometimes an hour. Photo: Sack

We’re starting to see more and sea nettle jellies. That’s why we’ve also been seeing some 4′-5′ mola mola’s. Their favored prey is the sea nettle jelly.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale I love when they go into a feeding frenzy. Photo: Sack

Overall the humpbacks have been putting on a pretty good show. Some trips they are more active than others. But on every trip the sheer numbers of whales and usually dolphins we see is astounding. The action should just start getting better.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Non-stop for about an hour and that was that. Photo: Sack

The salmon bite is on again as well. A commercial guy came in with 29 fish the other day. That’s a good score for out here over the last few years. The system seems to be thriving.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale The rostrum of the humpback whale. Photo: Sack.

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06-03-2017: Humpbacks Continue Feeding In Front of Moss Landing, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins

Check out some video from a recent trip

Pacific White-sided Dolphin Pacific White-sided dolphins were going nuts. They were chasing fish right along side the humpbacks. It’s amazing. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing continues to be the place to be for whales and dolphins on the Monterey Bay. Right now we’re talking humpbacks, Pacific white-sided dolphins, northern right-whale dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and more. If you take a boat out of Monterey or Santa Cruz, you will likely end up on an hour or more boat ride to Moss Landing before you see anything worthy. Because that’s where the big show is. We’re on the animals 10-minutes from the time leave the harbor. You get a lot more face-time with animals if you leave out of Moss Landing.

Northern right-whale A Northern right-whale dolphin breaches. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Today we came across many groups of humpbacks as we explored along the north ledge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. We also came across scattered groups of Pacific White-sided dolphins. So that was fun. They were giving us some nice bow riding views.

Pacific white-sided dolphins riding our wake. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing Pacific white-sided dolphins These things were in full feeding frenzy mode. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

We had some great looks at the Northern right whale dolphins this week also. We don’t see this species as often as some of the others. But when we do, they often occur with the Pacific White-sided dolphins. So we’re always on the look out for the odd looking dolphin with no dorsal fin. We had them jumping in the air earlier in the week.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Close-in humpback whale. That’s Moss Landing Beach in the background, just north of the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Michael Sack.

There was also a black-footed albatross or two soaring around close to the water as they ride the air lift above the swells. The black-footed albatross are incredible birds. They fly all the way from nesting sites in the Hawaiian Islands. They lock their wings into place and can do something called dynamic soaring. They use the wind.

They are thought to have a lower heart rate when they are flying than when they are in the water. They are part of the tubed nose order. They can desalinate sea water to drink using a tube above their beak. They feed mostly on fish, squid, dead sea animals. We always see them show up during killer whale predation events.

black-footed albatross Black-footed albatross. Photo: Sack

It’s just incredible out there right now. But make sure you go out of Moss Landing. Much more face time with the animals and we also have more time to explore if we want. Plenty of room on all our trips. Trips depart daily at 09:30

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05-25-2017: Moss Landing Whale Park Officially Open, Killer Whales Today, Huge Influx of Humpbacks, Occasional Blue Whale

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Notice the orange coloring on the eye patch of this very young orca. They’ll usually have this coloring until they are about a year old. Then it becomes more white. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017.

We had a couple of great looks at about 6-7 killer whales today. But these things were elusive. They gave the whole whale fleet the slip a few times until finally we all gave up as they took off at warp speed to the West. A few of us got lucky and the killer whales and had some great looks as they blasted by us. We saw this same group a few days ago. We had one distant look and that was that. We had a few good looks this time. A CBS news crew came out with us the other day. Here’s what they reported:

CBS News reports from the Sanctuary

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Young killer whale breaches. Photo; Sack , sanctuarycruises.com. 05-11-2017.

The sheer numbers of humpbacks right out in front of Moss Landing is astounding. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where you can stand on the beach and watch humpback whales on such a consistent basis and so close. These animals have been just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor for about the last month. Most of times we’re seeing them before we even leave the harbor.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Moss Landing Humpback Whale. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017.

We’re basically seeing them in small herds from just outside the harbor to 7-8 miles out and that’s about as far as most everyone’s been going lately. We have heard reports of concentrations of humpbacks and scattered blues as far out as 15-20 miles. They’re feeding on mixed batch of anchovies and krill. I estimate there are about 30-50 or more humpbacks in the Monterey Bay right now. Some days, probably more.

Monterey Bay Mola Mola Mola Mola

As they migrate from their breeding and calving grounds off the coasts of Southern Mexico and Central America, they make their way to Pacific Coast and more specially right here in front of Moss Landing to feed. The humpback population we see along the California coast will feed as far north as Oregon.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Another pair of humpbacks just off the beach in Moss Landing. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017

These animals are thought to be able to consume as much as 3,000 lbs of fish or krill per day. And it’s important that they do. Because when they are in their breeding and calving grounds from about December through March, there is not a lot of food for them to eat there. They rely on the blubber layer that they are building up as they gorge on fish and krill 24 hrs per day, 7-days per week here along the Pacific Coast. That’s pretty much all they’re doing here just off Moss Landing.

Monterey Bay Harbor Seal A friendly young harbor seal. This thing had to have only been two-feet long. Photo: Sack. 05-23-2017.

When they are not eating they’re looking for food or traveling in search of richer feeding grounds. It is truly remarkable that these animals can go without eating much for three months out of the year. Particularly incredible is the pregnant female’s ability to provide sustenance for the calf without eating for three months. Not only while she is carrying the calf, but also after the calf is born. A newborn calf is thought to be able to consume 500 gallons of 40%-50% fat rich milk.
Monterey Bay Humpback Whale Two humpback flukes.

Monterey Bay Elephant Seal This is a young elephant seal we came across.

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05-10-2017: Ten to Twenty Humpbacks Just Outside Moss Landing Harbor Mouth, More Blue Whales Show Up

Check out some video from today

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales Humpbacks do a vertical lunge as they chase anchovies up out of the water. This was one of the photographs taken by one of the participants in our photography workshop on Tuesday. Thanks for the awesome photos James! Photo by: Jim Quaschnick 05-09-2017

It just keeps getting better and better. So far sightings and conditions are setting up to be another year where we have the many humpbacks feeding just off the beach in Moss Landing. People can go down to the beach and watch whales from the beach in Moss Landing.

Moss Landing Sea Otter This old guy was hanging out on the dock near the Sanctuary. Photo: Sack, 05-10-2017

We have seen some lunge-feeding outside the harbor, but not frequent yet. There has been huge schools anchovies bunched up against the canyon wall out in front of the Moss Landing Harbor. So it’s attracting many humpbacks, sea lions and birds.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales This was sort of a combination surface lunge and spy hop.

Over the last week or so we’ve had about ten, rampant lunge-feeding humpbacks off of Marina beach out in front of the sand plant. The first day we were with them I was in about 18-feet of water just outside the surf. We’re talking full on vertical lunge-feeding. These things were popping their big-fatty-heads ten feet up out of the water. Hundreds of sea lions and birds going wild right in the middle of it all. Quite a spectacle.

Monterey Humpback Whales More lunging. This went on for about three hours. Photo: Michael Sack, 05-09-2017

We were fortunate enough to have the same feeding frenzy happening on our afternoon, sunset photography workshop on Tuesday. Passengers got some amazing photographs. Here’s a few of the photo’s

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales A Humpback whale lunge feeding the in the Monterey Bay. Photo: Jim Quaschnick, JQphoto.com 05-09-2017

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale A Humpback whale side roll feeding the in the Monterey Bay, Monterey Ca.. Photo: Jim Quaschnick / JQphoto.com 05-09-2017

No one has found the killer whales for the last few days. But everyone’s looking. We did a few runs along where we’ve been seeing them but didn’t find them. We did find a lot of black-footed albatross. We’ve seen a couple of flocks of about 8-9. And more flying around.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale More lunge-feeding. Photo: Chase Dekker

There were also several sightings of blue whales. We had excellent looks at a blue that tracked along side us and then turned toward us at one point. So that was incredible. Conditions were also perfect today. Calm and glassy all day long.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale Side lunge. If you look closely you can see the whale’s eye. Photo: Chase Dekker

We’ll see what happens Thursday. Eric Mailander will be out there scouting around on his high speed skiff “Flatline”. We’re due for another orca sighting. This time of year there are usually a few boats out there focused on finding the orcas. So hopefully someone will find them on Thursday. We’ll report back later Thurs. or Friday morning.

California Brown Pelican California brown pelican cruises for leftovers. Photo: Chase Dekker.

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