03-10-2012: Northbound Gray Whales Continue, Risso’s Dolphins, Close in Nursery Pod of Common Dolphins, Still Waiting on Gray Whale Mothers and Calves

A Risso's dolphin just before a dive off of Point Pinos. Photo: Sack 03-10-2012

The marine conditions started out great. Very smooth ocean surface, no wind, warm conditions. But as we got closer the to “gray whale zone” about ten miles southwest of Moss Landing, things started to get a bit rocky. White caps started to appear and made the going a bit rough. But not before we got some decent looks at three gray whales heading north.

After about a half hour of tracking three grays, a passenger spotted a pod of about 20 Risso’s dolphins. So we hung with them for about 45 minutes until the winds started to pick up more and white caps appeared all around. We didn’t want to get caught too far south if the northwest winds really picked up. So we decided to head back toward the middle of The Bay so that we would have a straight run in if the weather picked up too much.

A mother common dolphin cruises along less than a mile outside of Moss Landing. Photo: Sack 03-10-2012

We were hoping to find orcas or more dolphins. And just as we were within about a mile of the Moss Landing Harbor entrance, we spotted a pretty rare nursery pod of common dolphins. This was a very small pod. Maybe 15-20 animals total.

A very small common dolphin surfaces with the small nursery pod. Photo: Sack 03-10-2012

We believe they mainly consisted of mothers and calves. There were a couple very young calves. Maybe a month old at most. The small ones were only about 2′-3′ long. Cute little buggers. It was pretty neat so see such a small dolphin cruising along with it’s mother.

About Michael Sack

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