07-02-2015: Acrobatic Humpbacks in Front of Moss, Mola Molas and More

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

This whale just randomly breached right next to the boat. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 07-02-2015

We started out the day with thick fog as we departed on our 08:00 am trip. I’m always nervous when we have fog. I just can’t help it. Even though the whales have been pretty much in the same area in front of Moss Landing for about the last year and a half, thick fog always makes me wonder if we’re going to find whales. Seriously, when we can’t see more than a boat length away in any direction. It makes it hard. But we haven’t been skunked by fog in probably well over a year.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Humpback whale flukes up in the fog. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 07-02-2015

These humpbacks can range up and down the whole California coast. Over the last year and a half there have been about 10 whales feeding between the harbor entrance and about 5 miles out. Sometimes they are closer, sometimes they are further. We never really know. So fog is always a risk.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

This is the whale’s pectoral fin. This whale was doing what we call pectoral fin slapping. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 07-02-2015

Once we got into the area of where we’ve been seeing whales, we just kind of slowed to near dead in the water, looking all around the boat to the extent that we could and listening, smelling. That’s right, often these humpbacks have a foul smelling breath that fouls up an area. After about ten minutes of this, a full size humpback popped up and blasts a loud blow off to our starboard. It was kind of surreal, what with the fog and all.

Moss Landing Harbor Seal

Another Moss Landing Harbor Seal. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

We could hear other blows in the distance, but our visibility was masked by the fog. But as we inched in the direction of the blows, a large humpback popped the better part of it’s head and body out of the water and crashed down to the water. I call these chin slaps. This animal did this repeatedly. Then another one joined in and followed it up with a nice tail lob.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Moss Landing Humpback Whale shows some tail fluke. Photo: Chace Decker, www.sanctuarycruises.com 07-02-2015

Now we’re talking. This is the kind of action we love. It was hard to get photos though because of the thick fog. But these things were going off. We had multiple breaches right next to the boat.

Moss Landing Mola Mola

We’ve been seeing more and more mola mola’s. Photo: Chace Decker, 07-02-2015

As the morning went on, the visibility got better and made for some excellent conditions. We did have some patchy fog as the day went on, but the whale action was fantastic.

About Michael Sack

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