03-22-2012: Rough Conditions Made the Going Tough, But we had Nice Looks at Common Dolphins, Another Steller Sea Lion Shows up at Moss Landing Sea Lion Dock

Common dolphins cruise next to the boat and check us out. Photo: Sack, 03-22-2012

The day started out very nice. We had very calm seas, smooth water and clean running. But after about an hour of heading to the northwest toward the Soquel Canyon, the wind turned on us and whipped up the ocean to make for a rough ride. This limited the direction we could go to one of two directions: Either straight out bouncing up and down and barely able to break more than three-knots of headway; or heading straight in with nice running and a comfortable smooth ride. Heading into weather made it tough to get any further out to where we knew the gray whales were passing through.

The good news is that I somehow spotted a nice pod of Long-beaked Common Dolphins. It was a challenge because of all the white-caps everywhere. It’s hard to spot marine wildlife when there are white-caps everywhere. During calm conditions that’s usually how we find animals: By spotting “white-caps” or splashes that break the pattern of the smooth water. When there are thousands of white-caps everywhere, you can imagine the difficulty that creates for finding marine wildlife.

At any rate, we had a few nice looks at about 50-100 common dolphins. It was kind of hard to tell how many there were because I had to focus more on keeping the boat positioned so that we didn’t get too slammed around. It was a challenge. After about an hour of inching out trying to get out further, I finally called it and we turned around. I was hoping we would find something on the way in.

The ocean is funny that way. Heading out into weather it’s like all hell is breaking loose. But when you turn around and start running with the wind and waves, it becomes very nice. Since your going about the same speed as the wind and in the same direction, it almost seems like there’s no wind. It’s a lot of fun for me when I get to do a little surfing on what feels like a 43′ surfboard with a motor. But I’d still rather be hanging out with whales.

We’re still checking on the conditions for Friday’s trip. Give us a call if you want to go out on Friday and we’ll let you know how it’s looking. But so far Friday is looking good.

Steller Sea Lion lounges on the Moss Landing "sea lion dock" just below the Sea Harvest restaurant. It's surprising that this big bull didn't seem to mind a California Sea Lion youngster posting up on his back. Photo: Sack, 03-22-2012

At least on the way in we got some nice looks at a Steller Sea Lion that was hanging out on the “Sea Lion Dock” in Moss Landing. So that was cool. These animals are three times larger than our California Sea Lions that are normally on the dock. It was pretty funny to see this young sea lion laying on top of this giant Steller. He didn’t seem to mind letting the little one use him as a bed.

About Michael Sack

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