09-12-2015: Humpback Whale Breaches on Kayakers, 30-40 Whales Right Outside Of Moss Landing, Long-beaked Common Dolphins, Incredible Spectacle

Humpback Breaches on Kayakers

A Moss Landing humpback whale breaches and lands on a pair of kaykers in a tandom kayak. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

It just keeps getting better and better. Today we saw a lot of active whales. A lot of different whales seem to be breaching and tail-lobbing more than normal today. So we always appreciate that. It’s quite a spectacle to see a 45-foot plus animal launching completely out of the water. We call this a full-breach.

Moss Landing Kayak Whale Watching

Kayaking with whales can be extremely dangerous. It can turn into a life or death situation real quick-like. Within seconds. It was very scary to watch. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-12-2015.

Today a couple of kayakers were very lucky. They came very close to getting crushed to death by the mighty humpback whale. A full-size humpback can weigh in at 40-tons. That’s a lot of heavy blubber that would surely flatten a kayaker if the whale had a direct hit.

Moss Landing Humpback whale Kayaking

I’m not sure if at this point these two know how lucky they were. They kind of had to be in shock. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-12-2015.

This was one of the more dangerous situations that I’ve seen out here. Here we were, minding our own business, checking out large quantities of humpback whales as they surrounded us in the Sanctuary. When all of a sudden, this massive full-size whale does a full 180-degree breach.

Moss Landing Humpback whale Kayaking

Experienced paddlers helped recover the almost crushed kayakers. Their kayak filled with water, so other experienced kayakers pumped out the water and righted the boat for them. The boat looked like it sustained some damage. Kind of bent. Yikes. That’s why I would never take anyone kayak whale watching. Most people don’t realize how dangerous kayaking with whales can be. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-12-2015.

The only problem is that it landed on two kayakers on a tandom rig. Pretty serious situation. Kayak whale watching can be extremely dangerous. And one should realize that humpback whales are wild animals and totally unpredictable. It’s a very uncontrolled environment out there. Just like any wilderness experience.

Moss Landing Kayaking with Whales

Mike takes a day off to go kayak whale watching. This was on labor day. I’m fully aware that I could be killed or injured doing this. Come to think of it, I could also be killed or injured snowboarding, surfing, off-shore long distance sailing, motorcycle riding, mountain biking, wake-boarding, camping in Alaska or walking to the Haute Enchilada. I guess I just like the thrill of it all. Live life. Be happy. Photo: Giancarlo Thomae, 09-07-2015.

Most of us who have hiked or camped in bear country take the same chance with wild animals and this can also be dangerous. Especially up in Alaska grizzly country. Many hikers have been mauled or killed after coming across a grizzly mother and cubs and accidently startle them. But these are the risks we take to enjoy nature. What about wandering around in the African Savana? There are dangerous animals there too. Buffalo, Moose and bears in Wyoming? Attacks on humans occur in these areas regularly. Mountain lions in the Santa Cruz mountains? The point is that if you’re going to be going into the wilderness and coming into contact with large wild animals, you just need to be aware that you are putting yourself at great risk and if you get hurt, that’s your problem. Especially with humpback whales. It’s just you and the whales. There’s no defense if a 40-ton humpback whale decides to come near you. Tail lob on you or breach on you. And that’s your problem if you put yourself in that position. Some people like it. You just never know.

If people want to go kayaking with whales and they get hurt or killed, that’s their problem. A human on a kayak has very little impact on a humpback whale. The humpbacks could care less. They are so massive they would very unlikely feel anything at all coming into contact with a human on a kayak. They weigh 40-tons for crying out loud. All they want to do is feed. The danger is probably less than hiking or camping in grizzly bear country. I can safely say that more people have been maimed or killed by bears, snakes, lions and tigers than have been by humpback whales.

Moss Landing Kayak Whale Watching

Epic morning kayaking in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Giancarlo Thomae 09-07-2015

I think it’s dangerous for people to go rock climbing. But I don’t plan on encouraging some kind of ban on rock climbing. If people want to rock climb and get enjoyment out of it, then good for them. Most kayakers show respect out there and just sit patiently and enjoy. But I see the idiots who ruin it for everyone else by power-paddling around, almost chasing after the whales. There always seems to be a least one person who is overly aggressive. Don’t chase the whales. It’s really pretty simple. Stay back 100 yards from an area where whales are known to be. Often, they are hunting fish in large areas and often will give you a pass by.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Watching

Captain Mike getting buzzed by the mighty humpback whale. Photo: Giancarlo Thomae.

Speaking of kayaking with humpback whales, Giancarlo and I cracked it before dawn and paddled out in the dark to one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never seen so many whales in one place. I particularly liked it because they were all within a mile of the harbor. I could hear humpbacks trumpeting and the loud smack of breaching before I even launched from our sailboat in the south harbor.

Moss Landing Kayak Whale Watching

At first we could only hear them. Then we could see the silhouettes of tail flukes and dorsal fins as they humped up for a dive. After about 15-minutes daybreak was on and we could see blows pretty much as far as we could see and hear them in all directions. As the sun rose low in the sky, the warm orange glow became overwhelming. Truly an incredible experience. Be sure to check back for part two of the video I shot on labor day with Giancarlo.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales

Amazing morning just after dawn on 09-07-2015. Photo: Giancarlo Thomae.

Common Murre

A common murre chick gets fed by it’s father. Photo: Michael Sack 09-11-2015


Albino Common Murre Chick

Here is a rare look at an all-white common murre. It almost looks like an albino. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-11-2015.

About Michael Sack

Boat Captain, Monterey Bay marine life naturalist and guide. Photographer and Videographer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *