04-14-2015: More Humpbacks Showing Up, Common Dolphins, Risso’s and More

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

This friendly humpback slowly eased up to the boat and popped his head up out of the water to get a better look. This is what we call spy-hopping. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com. 04-04-2014.

The Monterey Bay marine life action is just starting to kick into high gear. We’ve been having 20-25 knot plus northwesterly winds in the afternoons and sunshine all day long. This creates what we call upwelling.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

This was an incredible friendly encounter. These whales stayed with us, going back and forth under the boat. Checking us out. Amazing. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 04-04-2015.

Upwelling is when the cooler, nutrient rich waters from the deeper waters (particularly along the ledges the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon) reach the sun exposed upper stratus of the water column. Then, through photo-synthesis, we have these massive phytoplankton blooms. That’s what the krill eat. And of course, the humpbacks and blue whales feed on the krill.

Moss Landing Sea Lion

It’s all about the feast. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-13-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

They just kept coming up and going down all around the boat. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-04-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Hopefully we’ll start seeing more surface krill blooms. We’ve already seen some scattered swarms. But not in big numbers.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Here they come again. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-04-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

As we get closer to June we should start to see more blue whales coming into The Bay as well. But for now, we’ve been seeing close in long-beaked common dolphins on every trip.

Moss Landing Common Dolphin

The common dolphins have been awesome this year. We’ve been seeing them on every trip. Usually just outside the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-04-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

They’ve pretty much been hanging out feeding just outside of the harbor. We’ve also had feeding humpback whales just outside the Moss Landing Harbor. We haven’t had the kind of all day lunge-feeding we had a couple of days in March. But we have had some good breaching action and friendly behavior as well as the occasional surface lunge.

Black-footed Albatross

We haven’t seen a lot of black-footed albatross yet this year. Here is one of them. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-03-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

It’s also getting to be that time of year where we should start to see more orcas coming through.

Moss Landing Orcas

We hope to start seeing more orcas as the gray whale mothers and calves make their way to their feeding grounds in the Arctic Sea. Just outside of Moss Landing is a favored orca/gray whale ambush zone. Photo: Michael Sack, 04-02-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing Sea Lion

Survival of the fittest. Here’s one sea lion who seems to be eating well. At least for today. Photo: MIchael Sack, 04-09-2015, www.sanctuarycruises.com

In fact, I’m thinking of doing some early morning orca scouting trips for people who can’t get enough. Here’s the deal, if you are already going out on one of our other trips that day, we’ll throw in the 3-hour+ dawn-patrol orca scouting trip for $10.00 more. Likely smaller groups on these dawn patrol trips. We’re going to do them periodically but try and do them every Thursday and Friday. Email me at crew@sanctuarycruises.com if you’re interested.

About Michael Sack

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