08-14-2012: Two Different Pods of Orcas, A Feeding Blue Whale, Humpbacks, Risso’s Dolphins, Northern Right-whale Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, a Mola Mola, Northern Fur Seal and more

Wow! What a difference a day makes. Just incredible. A full day of calm smooth conditions, plenty of animals. We came across a Mola Mola within 20-minutes of leaving the harbor. So that was good. It’s nice to break it up a little. Of course we also stopped to check out a friendly sea otter.

But the real action began well after another hour-plus of running when we got out into the whale grounds. We had reports of a blue whale and some humpbacks feeding. So we were on course for that when a another report came in that there were orcas on our same course just two miles ahead. So we picked up the pace and made way.

As we got on the scene we could see a couple of males and a few females with a young calf. The young calves have an orange shade in what will eventually become their white patches. After about a year, their orange patches begin to turn white.

The good news was that they were not spending much time under water. So we were getting great looks and great surface time. The bad news is that they were moving along briskly on a southbound course at five knots. So we followed them almost down to Cypress Point. We were twenty miles from port. We could only follow them so far south before it was time to go look for some baleen whales and make our way north back towards Moss Landing.

After about 20-minutes of running we came across the unmistakable dorsal fin of a male orca. It’s quite a rush when you come onto something like that. So we had a few nice looks. But these orcas were also heading south at brisk pace. So we just kept going in hopes of finding a humpback or blue whale.

Then another report came in about a feeding blue whale a half mile from our position. So of course, we made way in that direction.

Likely one of the best blue whale encounters we have had. Some nice surface feeding and we were observing the animals pectoral fin and the side of it’s tail fluke as it would repeatedly slow motion lunge on it’s side for krill between the surface and ten feet below. I could see the krill on our sonar.

There were also humpbacks in the area.

But we sure did cover a lot of water. It ended up being a six-hour trip because we had so much to see. Very nice day on The Bay. And it should just get nicer and nicer as we get closer to September.

My favorite days on The Bay are in September, October and November. Often calm and warm, excellent lighting with sunrise and sunset being particularly striking.

Hopefully the humpbacks will be chasing the anchovies into shallow waters. We’ve been seeing jumping anchovies pretty close in lately. So we’ll keep you updated.



About Michael Sack

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