03-18-2016: Lunge-feeding Humpbacks Right Out Front, 300-500 Common Dolphins

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Lunge-feeding humpback just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 03-18-2016

We had a big change up in the system today. We had between 4 and 6 humpbacks feeding just outside the harbor entrance. Not just feeding, but surface lunge-feeding. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s been a while. So it’s nice to see some close in lunge-feeding again.

Moss Landing Whale Watch

These things just kept going at it about every ten minutes. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 03-18-2016.

Today we never went more than a couple of miles out. We were pretty well on the action within about five minutes of leaving the harbor and stayed with whales or dolphins for the entire three-hour trip.

Moss Landing Common Dolphins

These common dolphins were right in the middle of it all. Looks like the spring action is starting. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 03-18-2016

We’ll see what happens today. Check back later this evening for an update.

Moss Landing Whale Watch

We didn’t see big schools of fish at the surface. But we could see some jumping just before a big surface lunge. It looks like anchovies. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 03-18-2016.

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03-17-2016: Nice Marine Conditions, Humpback Whales, Gray Whales, Common Dolphins and More

Moss Landing Whale Watching

This young humpback breached over 20 times. Photo: Michael Sack, 03-04-2016.

We’ve been fortunate to have a run of nice weather. So we haven’t really been limited on where we can go. And it’s a good thing because most of the action has been pretty scattered. A lot of long divers lately. We think they’ve been feeding deep on limited amounts of krill. They also appear to be more in search mode than full-scale feeding. We’ve been having some 20-minute whales. When we come up against this, we usually move on. But we’ve also come across a chronic breacher or two. We also saw our first gray whale mother and calf pair the other day. There have also been a lot of black-footed albatross around.

Black-footed Albatross

We’ve been seeing a lot of these black-footed albatross after we get out to about five miles. Photo: Michael Sack.

The orcas can’t be far behind. We generally start to see orcas more frequently as we get closer to April and then into June. The Monterey Bay is notorious as an ambush zone for orcas predating on gray whale calves with their mothers as they make their way north to Alaska from their birthing grounds in the warm water lagoons on the Pacific side of Baja (Check out National Geographic’s coverage of an Orca attack on a gray whale mother and calf from aboard the Sanctuary.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Chin-slapper. We’re not sure why some of these whales do this. Most of them don’t breach like this. That is, throat first. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com.

We’ve been running every day this week and hope to continue this schedule through Easter. Also we’re going to start doing some sailing tours for those who want a quieter marine life experience. Only six passengers per cruise. Give us a call or go to our reservation booking page to see the schedule for sailing tours.


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02-07-2016: Humpbacks Return, Many Common Dolphins in The Bay, Warm and Glassy Conditions

Monterey Bay Common Dolphin

There are many long-beaked common dolphin in The Bay right now. On some trips we’ve seen several different, large pods. We’ve also been hearing reports of large pods off of Monterey. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-07-2016.

Many humpbacks appeared in The Bay today. We didn’t see them in large concentrations. We were mainly seeing singles and doubles. But we also heard reports of humpbacks to the south toward Monterey as well as up off Santa Cruz Point and Steamer Lane.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Many humpbacks have shown up in the Monterey Bay. We won’t be running again until Friday. I’m sure if they can find enough food to eat they won’t go anywhere. We’ll report back this coming Friday. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-07-2016.

It will be interesting to see if they stick around. That would be awesome. We’ll start running more trips if that is the case. For now we’re still mainly running Friday thru Sunday. The weather has been amazing over the last week or so. Warm and glassy, calm ocean conditions.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

It’s nice to have our humpbacks back. Hopefully they’re here for the season. Otherwise its back to watching grays pass by on their way to the lagoons of Baja. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-07-2016.

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02-05-2016: Nice Looks at a Trio of Gray Whales, 300-500 Common Dolphins, Warm Sunny Conditions

California Gray Whale

California Gray Whale tail-fluke. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-05-2016

Today turned out beautiful. It’s a good thing the conditions were nice, because we had to go for an hour and a half before we came across anything. We enjoyed some excellent looks at a nice group of three southbound, gray whale travelers. They were staying up nicely as we tracked them for a handful of dive cycles.

Monterey Bay Common Dolphins

We’ve been seeing these long-beaked common dolphins on almost every trip. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-05-2016.

With conditions so nice, we decided to head out a little further to the West until we got the ledge of the canyon where it dropped off to over 4,500 feet deep. We followed the ledge north until we got to where we call “The Corner.” The ledge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon turns toward Moss Landing at that point. We always find more productivity along the ledge of the canyon. Fortunately both the northwest ledge and the southwest ledges both lead to Moss Landing. Because the Moss Landing Harbor mouth is where the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon begins. So we followed the ledge in and that’s when we came across these long-beaked common dolphins.

California Gray Whale

California Gray off Point Pinos. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-05-2016.

By the time we left the grays as they journeyed south to Baja, we were almost to Cypress Point. That’s the north end of the Carmel Bay. So it ended up being a nice ride. Until the humpbacks show up again in April, we will likely be running 4-5 hour trips. Stay tuned.

California Gray Whale

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02-03-2016: 30 Off-Shore Type Orcas, 500 Common Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins and More

Monterey Bay Common Dolphins

We’ve been seeing common dolphins regularly. Almost on every trip. But we never really know. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

The winter has been rough on the whale watching. We’ve been running trips mainly on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. And we have also been running our longer 4-hour+ trips. It’s pretty clear at this point that no humpbacks stuck around the Moss Landing area this winter. So I guess last year was a fluke. We had a couple humpbacks early in January, but after that we haven’t seen them.

Monterey Bay Orcas

Offshore orcas feed on fish just outside of Carmel Bay. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

So it’s back to the “gray whale grind” as I like to call it. This usually means heading out to where the “gray whale highway” is. Unfortunately that’s about 10-15 miles out. Sometimes we’ve been lucky and have had sightings just outside the harbor or some dolphins a couple of miles out. We’ve been doing pretty well with the dolphins, actually. Mainly long-beaked common dolphins. But we really never know what we’re going to see. We could have orcas show up anytime anywhere on The Bay. Speaking of orcas…

Today was incredible. It did take us 1.5 hours before we really saw much. So it was kind of a rough start.  But once we were in the zone things got really interesting.

Monterey Bay Orcas

We rarely get to see this. That’s because this was a rare sightiing of “offshore” type orcas. This type of orca eats mailnly fish. They were behaving and feeding like common dolphins. Which of course they are technically are dolphins. But the “transient” orcas we normally see here in the Monterey Bay don’t eat fish. They eat mammals. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

About 500-700 common dolphins. Then another 200 further out high-tailing it toward us. We’re talking full on, high-speed, frantic porpoising. We’ve seen this before. Just before a bunch of orcas showed up and caused mayhem.
Monterey Bay Orcas

More orca watching. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

The next thing we knew there were about 30 orcas cruising all around the area. Turns out they were offshore type. So they were not after the dolphins. The “offshores” eat mainly pelagic fish like tuna and sharks.
Monterey Bay Orcas
There are three “eco-types” of orcas that we know of: The “Residents” who mainly live up in Puget Sound, Washington State and Alaska area. They mainly eat fish like salmon. Then there are the “Transients”. We normally see the transients here in the Monterey Bay. They are mammal eaters. We’ve seen them hunt and eat long-beaked common dolphins, harbor seals, elephant seals and sea lions. I’m pretty sure the dolphins don’t know the difference between “residents”, “transients” and “offshores.”  They all pretty much look the same. The “offshores” are what we saw today. This is a very rare sighting for us. These animals are more typically found far offshore.
Feeding Orca

Orca feeds on fish. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

 They were carrying on like a small pod of dolphins. They were circling around corralling and eating fish. It was such easy watching. They were just kept circling around, pretty much going under for only a minute or two at a time. We also had a nice swimby by a couple large males. So that was cool. You really get a sense for how large these animals are when they are only a few feet from you. Amazing.
Blac-footed albatross

We almost always see black-footed albatross when we see orca’s feeding. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

At any rate, we’ve been seeing excellent long-beaked common dolphins. So, that has been nice. Long-beaked commons, as we call them,  love playing in our wake and riding alongside the boat. It is really neat to see. Especially in smooth, clear water on a nice sunny day. We have had those sprinkled in over the last couple of months. The occasional warm sunny day. Pretty far and few between.

Monterey bay Killer Whales

This is one of the big males. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

January was very stormy. We had to cancel more than not. It’s mostly been gray whale watching. Maybe every other trip we’re getting glimpses of young, southbound gray whales cruising along the coast just outside the harbor.

Monterey Bay Risso's Dolphins

On the way in we stumbled across about 10-15 Risso’s dolphins. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2016.

We more often see this happening during the gray whale’s northbound migration. And more often than not it is a mother and calf. They will cruise by the harbor area just outside the surf line. We believe the mother bring their calves along the shore to avoid predation by orcas, aka killer whales.

Monterey Bay Risso's Dolphins

We never know what we’re going to see out there. It was nice coming across these Risso’s on the way in. Photo: Michael Sack, 02-03-2015.

If the weather cooperates, we’ll be running Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Once the humpbacks start showing, we’ll getting back to it and running more trips during the week. There’s still a lot to see out there when the weather cooperates.

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12-28-2015: Humpbacks Feeding Right Out Front, Perfect Conditions

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

Humpbacks on the prowl just outside Moss Landing Harbor. Beautiful conditions, easy watching. Photo: Michael Sack, 12-28-2015.

So far so good for winter whale watching. We still have about six humpbacks feeding in front of Moss Landing. There’s also been a lot of birds working the area feeding on anchovies.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Humpback whale goes down for a dive. Photo: Michael Sack, 12-28-2015.

The weather has been unstable for the last few weeks. So it’s been hit or miss. But when a nice weather window opens like we’ve had over the last couple of days, we’re loving it.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Humpbacks just outside of the harbor. Photo: Michael Sack, 12-27-2015.

Most of the action has been just outside of the harbor. We have done some exploring and more often than not, things are pretty quiet out there beyond three miles. No birds, no anchovies, no whales.

I did do an early morning scouting trip this morning and came across about 200-300 common dolphins right outside of the harbor. But we didn’t see them on our 10:30 trip.

Right now it’s all about the weather. So when the weather has been nice we’re on it. We’ve also heard reports of orcas in the area. So we’re always keeping an eye out for the big black fin of the male orca.

For the moment we’re planning on running as much as possible to take advantage of the humpbacks right outside the harbor. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of months. We may be looking at a repeat of last years historic event where 6-10 humpbacks didn’t do the normal migration to Southern Mexico. They stayed here for the entire year. We plan on running most days for the next few weeks as long as the humpbacks stick around. Stay tuned for updates.

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11-29-2015 Greeted by a Breach!

photo: V Stein

photo: V Stein

Sunday’s Whale Watch – Flat, beautiful water and a chilly breeze from shore made today a beautiful day already, but our 10:30 trip was greeted a little ways out into the bay with a breaching humpback! It gave us at least four breaches and some pec slaps, while its traveling companion threw a tail lob and then headed in a different direction. While this whale put on a show, we watched in awe. As it left, we spotted a small group of long-beaked common dolphins. As we played with the dolphins for a while, they led us back toward a group of diving birds. A hundred more common dolphins, pelicans, sea lions, and lunge-feeding humpbacks rounded out a really spectacular day out on the water. Photo: Vicky Stein

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Friday, November 29, 2015 Great Lunging Whales!

Yesterday morning our first trip was seeing lunge-feeding humpback whales before we even left the harbor mouth. An enormous flock of birds (brown pelicans, Heerman’s gulls, cormorants, and murres, among others) dove into the water as the whales lunged vertically out of the water, mouths open wide. I’m sure the view from the beach was good, but the view from our deck was incredible. Here’s a shot of three whales, in different stages of their lunge. Check out those baleen plates, and the big pink inside of the whales’ upper jaws- the last thing those anchovies will ever see.

Both yesterday and today we were treated to some amazing tail flukes, whales parading by our boat. Sometimes the light was just right (I think it could be because the sun is relatively low this time of the year) for some nice rain-blows, as Captain Mike likes to call them. The condensing air from the whales’ breaths forms pretty little rainbows over the surface of the bay!

On both days, we also had the chance to spend some time with hundreds, if not over a thousand long-beaked common dolphins. Tricky to photograph, because they’re so fast, I managed to get one shot of a juvenile and its mother surfacing right alongside the Sanctuary. Any day with dolphins is a great day!

Despite the winter chill in the wind, it’s been a sunny and wonderful weekend so far out of Moss Landing. Monterey Bay has delivered spectacular views, sunshine, and lots and lots of marine life. Come out and visit us and the whales!

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11-21-2015 Lots of Humpback Action Right at Moss Landing

11-22-15 Amazingly we have lots of whale action still at Moss Landing. Saturday there were at least 8 humpbacks lunge feeding a the harbor mouth and we’ve had Risso’s and Common Dolphins almost every single trip this week. We haven’t seen the orcas for a week now – but we know they could show up anytime. The sea lions were gathering in a big mob and foraging along with the humpbacks yesterday, which makes it even more exciting. We have space on our 2 pm trip today and well as both trips tomorrow. We are running daily trips all week except Thanksgiving Day (we don’t ask our crew to miss holidays with their friends and family).

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10-22-15 Humpbacks are active today

After a slowing trend in whale activity this past week, it picked up  today. We estimate 100breaches in the bay with lots of  pec slapping today. Dolphins too.

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10-15-2015: Very Active Whales, More Lunge-Feeding, Common Dolphins and More

Moss Landing Whale Watch

There were about 10 humpbacks breaching and carrying on with other hijinks. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises, 10-15-2015.

As we left the harbor today the wind started to whip up and put some chop on the water. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot sea with it. But a pesky little chop did made for a little rocking and rolling. After about 10-minutes of running, we came across two mola molas. Also known as the giant ocean  sunfish. They were floating there right next to each other as a sea lion seemed to be circling around them. Circled a few times and got some great looks of these odd creatures and continued on.
Moss Landing Whale Watch

This was during our photo workshop tour earlier in the week. We had perfect lighting, spectacular sunset. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises, 10-13-2015.

A few minutes later as we were heading to the west, we started noticing blows another mile or so out. So we made a course headed in that direction. Soon we also could see “dolphin water”. Dolphins will create a break in the surface water pattern. It usually looks like a lot of little splashes from a distance.
Moss Landing Whale Watch

What an incredible afternoon / evening whale watch. Sunset really did look like that. Amazing. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises, 10-13-2015.

 We had excellent looks at these common dolphins as they leveraged the energy in our wake behind, along side and in front of the boat. After about 10-15 minutes of cruising with the dolphins, we noticed a massive breach about 300 yards from us so we slowed and focused out attention on where the whale just breached.
Moss Landing Whale Watch

The feeding continues. Photo: Michael Sack, Sanctuary Cruises, 10-09-2015.

The next thing we knew, we were in the middle of about 10-whales that began to full-breach, pectoral fin slap and tail-lob around us. This was one of the more spectacular encounters we’ve seen. These animals were active. And it was a lot of them. There was even one animal that tail-lobbed so close it got some of the passengers wet.
Moss Landing Whale Watch

This was a full-on feeding frenzy for about two hours. Photo: Michael Sack, 10-09-2015.

So the action just continues right out in front of Moss Landing.
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October 15, 2015 Very Active Humpbacks at Moss

The activity patterns of our local feeding humpbacks keep us guessing. Today’s trips were filled with breaches, pec slapping and tail lobbing. Yesterday we had sleepy whales in the morning along with great bow riding common dolphins and then surface lunge feeding and breaching, slapping whales in the afternoon. This week we’ve noticed that the whales are more scattered and tend to be cruising around in smaller groups of only 2-3 whales. Their activity varies from very active to quite sleepy with longer dives. Our sense is that the schools of anchovies are not as dense, so the whales are working a bit harder to fill their bellies. However, usually at least once a day we are lucky to locate large groups of cooperative feeding whales at the surface. The classic “surface lunge feeding” events are truly a sight to behold. They arise straight upwards with their enormous throat pouches bulging out and filled with anchovies.
We’ve started offering afternoon photography cruises lasting four plus hours into the dusk. The lighting is great and the behaviors tend to be more exciting at this time of day.

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09-25-2015: Thirty to Forty Humpback Whales Continue Feeding Frenzy Just Outside of Moss Landing

Moss Landing Whales

Rampant lunge-feeding in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises 09-23-2015.

The action has been rampant in front of Moss Landing lately. This is seriously some kind of wonder of the world. These humpbacks have been gorging within a few miles of Moss Landing for at least the last couple of months. The quantity of anchovies required to sustain this is staggering.

Moss Landing Whales

This was an incredible feeding event. These things were popping their big-fatty heads every few minutes for while there. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises, 09-23-2015.

The larger animals are thought to eat up to 3,000 Lbs. pounds per day of anchovies. The humpbacks also eat krill when it is around. But the last couple of years they have been eating mainly anchovies. I have to wonder where the anchovies keep coming from. They seem so abundant. We believe it’s because the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon is so vast and productive.

Moss Landing Whales

The feast continues. Photo: Chace Dekker, Sanctuary Cruises, 09-23-2015.

We have been observing a variety of surface behavior. Tail-lobbing, breaching, lunge-feeding, pectoral fin slapping and all manner of general hijinx.

Moss Landing Lunge-feeding Humpbacks

Moss Landing Lunge-feeding Humpbacks

The conditions have been mixed. Some of the afternoon/evening trips over the last week had some rough conditions. But we’ve also had some amazing evenings and sunsets. We’re looking forward to calmer conditions as we get closer to October. We are also planning on doing some marine life photography workshops in October. They’ll be 4-5 hour+ trips from 02:00 PM until dusk. Limited to 20 photographers. Check our online calendar in October for dates, times and pricing.

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09-20-2015: Humpbacks and Common Dolphins Continue to be the Sure Thing In Front of Moss Landing

We had a few days last week with rough going in the afternoon. The conditions have been nice for morning trips and most of the day. Today it was nice all day long.

Moss Landing Killer Whales

These orcas usually get excited after a kill and start carrying on with spy-hopping and tail-lobbing. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 09-16-2015.

Earlier in the week we were fortunate enough to witness a rare orca predation event on long-beaked common dolphins just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. It was incredible.

Moss Landing Killer Whales

Here a young orca pops out of the water as it moves along. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-16-2015.

We had already been tracking a pod of about seven orcas when we could see the unmistakable splashes of dolphins coming our way about a mile to the north. We suspected this could be interesting.

Moss Landing Long-beaked Common Dolphins

They were out of there immediately. It seems that they have the ability to instantly communicate among the entire 500+ pod. They all took off instantly, at the same time. The entire pod jumped much like a school of anchovies does when a humpback whale does a vertical surface lunge. Then they all took off at warp speed to the East. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-16-2015.

The orcas disappeared when the dolphin pod was within about a 1/2 mile of us. After a few minutes, the dolphins immediately jumped (all 500 of them) at once and took off in a mass, rapid stampede to the East. It was quite the sight to behold.

Moss Landing Long-beaked Common Dolphins

This was one of the most incredible encounters we’ve seen. We watched the whole thing unfold. We were tracking the orcas and could see the dolphins at least a mile away on a collision course with the hunting orcas. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-16-2015.

Today the conditions were outstanding. Very warm, decent sea conditions. There was a pesky little lump, but pretty amazing overall. Sightings varied throughout the day. These animals were moving around. So we had mixed results. At times the whales seemed to scatter. Maybe spread out as they went into search mode.

Moss Landing Orcas

Orcas on the prowl. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-16-2015.

But then we also had them come together as they worked groups of 10-15 or more. Seeing and hearing 10-15 of these massive animals surfacing and fluking together is incredible.

Moss Landing Orcas

Young female type orca surfaces. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-16-2015.

There was also the random breach or tail-lob in the distance and some limited surface lunge-feeding. But that was also pretty random. On the 05:00 PM trip 15-20 humpbacks came together and were working an area just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. They would surface all at once right next to each other, blowing in succession.

Moss Landing Orcas

It looks like the conditions should be nice for the morning trips in the coming week. We never know with the afternoon and evening trips. When the weather comes together, you can’t beat the evening trips. What with the beautiful sunsets and perfect lighting. But sometimes the wind comes up and we have to cancel. Hope to see you out here.

Captain Mike

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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.

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