07-03-2013: Perserverance Payed off, We hit the Motherlode

Holy mackerel. The marine conditions have been unstable lately. When I woke up this morning the ocean conditions were pristine off of Moss Landing.

A Blue whale on the hunt for krill. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

A Blue whale on the hunt for krill. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

I like to enjoy my morning coffee while I check out the ocean conditions at the Moss Landing harbor mouth. A set of binoculars nearby. Sometimes I get lucky and and see a spout or two in the distance. I love when that happens. That means the pressure is off to find whales because they are right out in front of Moss. I didn’t see any whales off the beach today. But I was encouraged by the near perfect conditions. But we never know on the Monterey Bay. It changes from hour to hour.

Blue whale lunge feed.

Surface lunging blue whale shows us it’s pectoral fin and throat pleats. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

By the time we left the harbor at 1000, the fog came in and the wind picked up. We call this fog wind. It can be jumpy out there in these conditions. But we kept going because we had reports of surface lunge-feeding blue whales and humpbacks. The reports on the radio were beautiful, clear conditions with little swell and no wind. The only problem: The motherlode was still 15-20+ miles to the south west off of Point Lobos and we were in dense fog as far as we were concerned. Running on instruments.

Blue whale

More blue whale action. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

But we were on it. Visions of whales and honey. Because at this point, the thick fog and brisk wind made the going tough. We couldn’t see anything. And if we didn’t get out of the fog, we were not going to see anything. So we kept charging south.

Black-footed albatross

Black-footed albatross skims above the water. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

It was a tough call. But we kept heading south and finally got on the scene when conditions calmed down and we enjoyed the spectacle of a lifetime. Blue whales and humpbacks surface lunge feeding. Calm ocean conditions, but with limited visibility because of fog. Some of the passengers even got a look a nice handful of Pacific White-sided dolphins as they cruised through the area. The visibility was marginal because the fog ended up piling up from the west. We still managed to stay with these incredible blue whales and humpbacks that just kept surfacing around the boat.

Blue whale

Black-footed albatross is cruising for the leftovers from the lung-feeding blues. Photo: Chase Dekker, 07-03-2013.

We also had some good looks at some passing black-footed albatross. This was one of those trips where we had our work cut out for us. We can’t go as fast in the fog because of the visibility issue. So the trip ended up being almost 6.5 hours. But it was worth it. We rarely get to see blue whales lunge feeding. These animals are 85′ long for crying out loud. What an incredible day.




About Michael Sack

Boat Captain, Monterey Bay marine life naturalist and guide. Photographer and Videographer.
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