04-21-2013: More Orcas, Blue Whales Feeding

Blue whale

A blue whale surfaces between feeding dives. Photo: Sack, 04-21-2013

The orcas have been on the hunt in The Bay for the last few days. We have seen at least two different pods working the ledges of the canyons.

Blue Whale

Blue whale surfacing again after a couple of shallow feeding cycles. Photo: Sack, 04-21-2013.


Today they were hard to keep up with as they seemed to be heading to the West at a high rate of speed. We also had a brisk wind and a pesky chop making the going ruff.

Pacific White-sided Dolphin

Pacific white-sided dolphin cruising through the area after we lost the orcas. Photo: Sack, 04-21-2013.


But we did finally catch up to them and they were up to their old tricks. The elusive pod were clearly on the hunt zig zagging in all directions, staying under for almost 10-minutes at a time and then popping up more than a quarter mile away. They were hard to track. We thought that they might slow down when a pod of Pacific White-sided dolphins came cruising through the area. But that’s when we lost them.

We had heard reports of blue whales about a 3-miles from our current position. So we followed the white-sided dolphins as they were heading in the same direction as the blue whale reports.

After about 20 minutes of running we came upon the unmistakeable blast of a blue whale spout. They can blow almost 30 feet up on a good day. But they are usually a challenge to watch because they can have burst speeds of up 30-miles per hour. And they also can stay under for a solid 30-minutes. Luckily, the animal we were with today was feeding in the area and circling around instead of moving out. So we had the animal come about 50 yards off our port side as it surfaced for a breath and then continued feeding. We had a couple of nice sightings as the animal repeated this pattern. What a nice day out there.

Risso's Dolphins

Here’s a shot Dorris was able to get as I was holding a fast course while taking a some wind chops on the beam. I finally had to call the pursuit of because we couldn’t keep up with them. Photo: Welch, 04-21-2013.

On the way in we came across a small pod of fast moving Risso’s dolphins. Very strange behavior. They were carrying on like they were Pacific white-sided or common dolphins. Moving at a high rate of speed  and actually jumping out of the water as they moved along. We call this “porpoising.”

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