07-23-2014: Lunge-feeding and Breaching Humpbacks, Common Dolphins and Dalls Porpoise

Moss Landing Humpback Whales

More Lunge-feeding humpbacks just outside of Moss Landing. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-23-2014.

Today it was the 10:00 AM that took the show. We haven’t seen common dolphins for a while. So it was nice when these common dolphins came buzzing through this large group of lunge-feeding humpbacks.

Moss Landing Humpack Whales

The productivity of the Monterey Bay is astounding. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-23-2014.

It was hard not to follow them right when they came through. But when you have 6-8 humpbacks lunge feasting with a large gang of marauding sea lions, you don’t leave. Then after about 20 minutes of surface-feeding hijinks, the humpbacks seemed to have had their fill for the moment.

Moss Landing Lunge-feeding Humpback

Humpbacks surface feeding. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-23-2014.

It was a good thing for us that the common dolphins didn’t go far as they were feeding on other nearby schools of anchovies.

Moss Landing Common Dolphins

These common dolphins came buzzing through the humpback whale feeding zone. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-24-2014.

Our luck ran out for today’s afternoon trips. The wind whipped up hard and made the going ruff starting with the 3:00 PM trip. After trying to keep up with a continuously breaching mother and calf pair, we had to turn back because the chop and wind made it impossible to keep up.

Moss Landing Common Dolphins

Common dolphins cruise along side the boat. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-24-2014.

But on the way in, we had probably the best series of close up breaches by another mother and calf just outside of the harbor mouth. We almost always see more breaching and acrobatics when the wind and chop pick up. And today was no different.

Moss Landing Common Dolphins

Close up of a “porpoising” common dolphin. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-23-2014.

We could see explosions of white water happening all around. When the conditions get rough, I have to put my camera down and keep my hands on the wheel. I hate when I have to do that. But some of the passengers got some incredible breaching photographs as this mother and calf breached repeatedly about 20 yards from the boat.

The 5:00 pm trip ended up being a wild ride in challenging conditions. But we did get some excellent looks at bow riding Dall’s porpoise. But I had my hands full keeping the boat straight. What a difference a day makes.

About Michael Sack

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