02-20-2012 – Excellent Northbound Gray Whale Views, Frolicking Common Dolphins, Sunny Skies and Smooth Waters

Common dolphin breaches right next to the boat. Photo: Sack

I took the photo above today as a pod of about 200-300 common dolphins came over to check us out. This one just randomly jumped out of the water and I happened to have my camera pointed in the general direction and popped off this shot.

Wow! What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we had some extreme whale watching conditions but a happy, hardy group. So it all worked out well.

But today was just as flat as can be, no wind, sunny and easy going with the living good. It makes a big difference in the comfort level. Just as yesterday, there are a lot of whales heading north. We were with a pod of about six with a few more trailing and we heard of a handful more a little further out and another couple inside and north of us. So there was no shortage of whales. The views we had today were among the best we’ve had. The animals seemed very comfortable with us and actually started to get closer with each surfacing. They seem to be more boat friendly when they are in large pods like that. We also see this same behavior with humpbacks.

But the real story today were the common dolphins that we came across on the way in. They were only about 2-3 miles outside of Moss Landing Harbor. We love the dolphins. They seem to be very interested in us. Often, as was the case today, they will change their course and start moving toward the boat and start “bow-riding” and “wake-riding.” They seem to leverage the energy created from our wake to ride and move along next to the boat and jump in front of the bow. It’s really a neat thing to see.

Here’s some incredible video footage from a trip in November. It’s one of the best encounters we’ve had.

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