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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09-09-2015: Tail-lobbing and Breaching Humpbacks, Bowriding Common Dolphins, Warm and Glassy Conditions

Moss Landing Whales

Moss Landing whales lunge-feeding on one of our evening trips. Amazing. This one happened only about 10-feet from the boat. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

As I sit here in our sailboat, in the stillness of predawn darkness, I can hear the unmistakable smack of humpback whales breaching and the loud trumpet blows of excited humpbacks. It’s really amazing to actually hear whales while I’m sitting right here in our sailboat in the harbor. Remarkable.

Moss Landing Whales

The lunge-feed fest pretty much turned on within a few minutes. We didn’t see much lunge-feeding on any of the earlier trips. The next thing we knew, every few minutes four or five big fatty heads would pop out of the water, exposing the inside of their mouths. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-08-2015.

The Fall feeding frenzy is on. We’ve been really having some nice feeding and breaching events for the afternoon trips. Especially that 05:00 pm. There’s nothing as better than when the conditions come together. Sunset on the ocean is almost magical. The warm glow of everything around you as the sun reflects off the ocean.

Moss Landing Whales

Nonstop lung-feeding for the entire trip. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-08-2015.

Our perfect fall conditions seemed to have set in. Warm and glassy with the living good all day long. And humpbacks in large numbers. I’m talking almost too many to count.

Moss Landing Whales

Moss landing whales, the feast continues. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-08-2015.

And they have been working together in tight groups. I would estimate 30-40 humpbacks or maybe even more. It’s hard to count them all before they all go down.

Moss Landing Humpback whale breaches. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-09-2015.

Moss Landing Humpback whale breaches. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-09-2015.

We’ve also had a few random killer whale sightings, so that is always nice. They seem to be going after the long-beaked common dolphins we’ve been seeing pretty much everyday.

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09-02-2015: The Lunge-feeding Continues in Front of Moss Landing, Common Dolphins, Birds, Sea Lions in Feeding Frenzy

Monterey Bay Breaching Humpback Whale

This young humpback breached about 20-times. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-02-2015.

Moss Landing continues to be the hotspot for marine life. The anchovies just keep on showing up. There is no place else in the world where within 10-minutes of leaving our harbor you can be with 20-30 humpback whales sharing a feeding frenzy with hundreds of common murres, brown pelicans, sooty shearwaters, pink-footed shearwaters, cormorants, seagulls, common dolphins, sea otters and more. Moss Landing is truly one of the marine life wonders of the world.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

The BBC Big Blue Live crew shooting some amazing footage in front of Moss Landing aboard the NOAA boat “Fulmar.” Most of the amazing footage they shot didn’t seem to make it on to the show for some reason. Time constraints I’m sure.  They’ve been shooting for the last couple of weeks and I have seen for myself some of the incredible action they were filming. Keep checking the Captain’s Log and we’ll be showing you more awesome footage of what happens out here. I plan on shooting a lot more video as we move forward. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-02-2015.

The sound is incredible. The squacking father murres and their chirping chicks, seagulls, the blows of the mighty humpback whale, the occasional thunderous smack of a breaching humpback. It’s amazing auditory experience. Often times I’ll shut off the engines and this really adds to our multi-sensory marine life experience.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales

Humpback whale doing a sub-surface lunge. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-02-2015.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales

Humpback whale lunging in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-02-2015.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

A kayaker gets up close and personal with a surface lunge-feeding humpback. Photo: Michael Sack, 09-02-2015.

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09-01-2015: Epic Day, Rampant Lunge-feeding All Day Long, Orcas Take Down A Common Dolphin

Monterey Bay Killer Whales

A killer whale spy hops after they took out a common dolphin. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 09-01-2015.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we had a day like today. Sure, we’ve been seeing a lot of surface lunge-feeding pretty much everyday. But today was over the top.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

Lunge-feeding humpbacks all around. The pink strip you see here is the palate of the mighty humpback whale. Notice the baleen hanging down from the animal’s upper jaw. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

Early in the trip, we drifted around just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor with 20+ whales swimming all around the boat, often popping up within 10-feet of the boat. Seriously, we had them literally popping up in all directions. At the bow, both sides and at the stern. Moss Landing Marine Park style.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

They just kept popping up every few minutes for the entire hour and a half that we were with them. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

But a mile out to the west, I had my eye on a large group birds that seemed to be working a large school of surface anchovies. After about 30-minutes I noticed the unmistakable big, fatty head of the mighty humpback whale popping up out of the water.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

Not much more to say. They just kept on doing this. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

I still wasn’t convinced to leave this large aggregation of humpbacks that were circling the boat as the worked together feeding just below the surface. But then I saw two big fatty whale heads pop up together. This was looking good. So we decided to make a course and head in that direction.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale

This was all they were doing. What can I say, I just kept pushing the button on my camera whenever they came up. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

The only problem was that there were so many whales all around us, we were pretty well pinned down. So I waited for my break. Kind of inching my way toward the west, away from the humpback whale mayhem that surrounded us.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale

Killer whale takes out a common dolphin. Photo: Giancarlo Thomae, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

We were finally able break away and made our way out a mile or so out to the west were the bird action was and where there were a couple humpbacks doing the occasional surface lunges.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Here we go again. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

As we approached, we could see more whales in the distance making their way toward what appeared to be surface anchovies as far as we could see. And the common dolphins, birds and whales were working it in full frenzy mode. One of the better feeding frenzies I’ve seen.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Then we heard a report of orcas not far from our position. We could see the unmistakable tall black fin of the killer whale about a mile away. And they were making their way towards Moss Landing. It was hard to leave the frenzy that were in the middle of. A couple of times, the surface anchovies creeped up under our boat and all the animals followed.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

That was too close for comfort, so I was forced to bump the engines to scatter the anchovies as we slowly moved away from all the action. It’s one thing to be observing all the action from a safe distance, but quite another to actually be right in the middle of the action.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 09-01-2015.

After another 15-minutes, we decided to leave the frenzy and go check out the orcas. As we approached, we could see that they were in pursuit of a common dolphin. They had separated this unfortunate dolphin from the rest of the pod and were in hot pursuit. We could see hundreds of dolphins blasting away from the scene as they stuck together in a close pod and were leaping out of the water as they scurried around. It was quite a spectacle to behold. You can see the video of the dolphins as the BBC Big Blue Live helicopter was up above us filming. Very cool. Moss Landing delivers once again.

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08-31-2015: Lunge-feeding Humpbacks All Week Long, Common Dolphins, Random Breachers, Tail-slapping, Tail-lobbing and More

Moss Landing Whales

Humpbacks surface lunge-feeding just outside of Moss Landing. Photo: Allen Wright, 08-29-2015.

The productivity of the waters just outside of Moss Landing just keep on producing. It’s really hard to fathom. We’ve had at least 30 humpback whales feeding almost 24-hours a day for more than a month now.

Moss Landing Whale Watching

The lunge-feeding just keeps going and going. Photo: Allen Wright, 08-29-2015.

And these animals can eat up to 3,000 lbs of anchovies per day each. It’s hard to wrap your head around. That is a massive amount of the 3″-4″ little anchovies. And they just seem to keep on coming. It really is a testament to the incredible productivity we have happening just outside of our harbor in Moss Landing.

Moss Landing Common Dolphin

We’ve been seeing common dolphins on every trip for the last couple of weeks. Photo: Kevin Walker.

It has been so incredible over the last two years, that for the first time in recorded history we had at least 10-humpback whales that did not make their normal migration to the breeding and calving grounds south of Puerto Vallarta in Southern Mexico. They just stayed here and fed right outside of our harbor in Moss Landing. We have had good numbers of reliable humpbacks every single day since March of last year.

Moss Landing Whale Watching

Over the last week it’s been all about the lunge-feeding. Photo: Kevin Walker.

I’m still amazed that more people don’t whale watch out of our sleepy little fishing village here in Moss Landing. People who know do. On any given day, one can go out on the beach and see the blows of whales and tail flukes as they feast just off shore.

Moss Landing Whale Watching

We’ve also had a few chronic breachers on some trips this week. Photo: Stephen Lefkovits.

We often have passengers that have gone out of Monterey or Santa Cruz just to find out that they had to motor an hour or more to The Moss Landing Marine Park before they see any decent whale activity. They seemed to feel duped. At least that what they say.

Moss Landing Killer Whales

Just in case the feeding and jumping humpbacks were not enough, a pod of killer whales showed and made a kill. We are not sure what they got, but it was likely something small. All we could see was what was left of some intestines. Here’s a youngster leaping for joy after a kill. Photo: Allen Wright, 08-28-2015.

It’s pretty funny to witness. Of course, the Monterey boats show up and we’ve already been watching whales for an hour or more and then they have to leave so that they can get back to pick-up another 150 passenger load. Big whaling over there. Serious business. Meanwhile, we’re still there aboard our beloved little Sanctuary taking in the spectacle from our ocean level decks while the other boats have to take off. Leaving passengers wishing they were still watching whales aboard the Sanctuary. We call it Sanctuary envy. Those in the know go out of Moss Landing aboard the Sanctuary.

 

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08-24-2015: Non-stop Lunge-feeding on the Early Trip, Continues For The 10:30 AM Trip

Sorry about not updating the Captain’s Log over the last couple of weeks. I injured my hand/wrist pretty bad so I’ve been having a hard time shooting and writing. Very hard to type. So I’ll have to be short on the text for another few days. Trying to type and operate computer, but it’s still a bit painful. But I did manage to pop off a few decent photo’s this morning. So here they are. I should be back at it by Friday.

-Captain Mike

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales

We haven’t seen this kind of constant lunge-feeding since last year. Non-stop fatty whale heads popping up every few minutes for the entire 08:00 morning trip. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-24-2015

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales

They just kept on going. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-24-2015.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales

Here’s another one. Photo: Michael Sack, 08-24-2015.

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08-23-2015: Orcas Take Out a Young Harbor Seal Next to The Sanctuary, Twenty to Thirty or More Humpback Whales Invade Moss Landing, Random Breaching, Tail-lobbing, Surface Lunge-feeding

Monterey Bay Killer Whales

We came across these four killer whales just as we were about to head in. They had a young harbor seal pinned up against the Sanctuary. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Photo: Mike Sabina, Sanctuary Passenger, 08-23-2015.

Epic times in the Moss Landing Marine Park. The humpback whale action has been constant over the last few weeks right out in front of Moss Landing. We have had consistent large numbers of humpbacks within a mile or two of the harbor. At least 20-30 whales working in groups as well as scattered about.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Incredible encounter today. These four orcas were circling the boat, going under the boat and spraying passengers with their blows as they tried to get this poor young harbor seal that was hiding right next to the boat. We don’t call her the Sanctuary for nothing. Photo: Sanctuary Passenger Mike Sabina, 08-23-2015.

There has also been consistent but random lunge feeding with 3-4 whales popping their big fatty heads up out of the water simultaneously with mouths agape chasing anchovies out of the water. It hasn’t been rampant lunge-feeding, but enough to to get some amazing looks.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

A humpback whale actually goes into the Moss Landing Harbor. They’re so thick over here they’re spilling over into the harbor. Well, Ok, maybe they’re not actually spilling over into the harbor, but this one sure did last week. We sure have it good over here. The best whale watching in the world. That’s why most of the Monterey whale boats and Santa Cruz boats drive the hour to hour and a half to come right out in front of our harbor. We’re seeing whales before we even leave the harbor. Life is good. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

There was one day last week when we had many whales breaching all over pretty much all day. So that was incredible.

Check out some video from today:

vickie-video-01

vickie-video-02

On our last trip today just as we were heading in, we came across one of our best orcas encounters ever. These four killer whales had a harbor seal pup pinned up against the Sanctuary. Passengers had quite an amazing close up encounter. At some points they were close enough to touch. Of course, we do not allow touching. Absolutely no petting the killer whales please. What a day. They were still out front of Moss Landing at dark. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. If I wanted to see killer whales, I would get on one of our boats tomorrow. You never know. Life in Moss Landing is good. Maybe not so good if your a harbor seal. But I’m just saying.

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08-11-2015: Lunge-feeding, Breaching and Tail-lobbing Humpbacks, Bow Riding Dolphins, Molas and More, Best Action So Far This Year

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Humpback whales doing some vertical surface lunge-feeding just outside of Moss Landing. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 08-10-2015

Over the last few days, we’ve been seeing the best action this year on all trips, all day long. And the marine conditions have been excellent. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Monterey Bay long-beaked common dolphins

Monterey Bay long-beaked common dolphins. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 08-11-2015

We also saw 200-300 Long-Beaked common dolphins and large groups of the feeding and breaching humpback whales. This has been going on for the last few days. Epic sightings.
Monterey Bay Whale Watching

The lunge-feeding continues. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 08-10-2015

Most trips today had humpbacks approach the Sanctuary within 5 feet to show us some love. us some love. The afternoon trip was over the top. We had multiple lunge-feeding, breaching, tail-lobbing and more. We also saw a massive 8-foot mola mola.
Monterey Bay Whale Watching

More lunge-feeding. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 08-11-2015.

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08-08-2015: Moss Landing Whale Park, The Real Greatest Show On Earth

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

This humpback did this repeatedly. I call it chin slapping. It’s a very peculiar to observe. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-08-2015.

Tom Steinstra was serious when he called what’s happening in Moss Landing right now “The real greatest show on earth.” Check out this video and you’ll see what he means:

There has been an absolutely remarkable spectacle happening just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor over the last three to four days. Fifteen plus humpback whales have been feeding together on a mass scale.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Here it is again. Notice the water coming out of it’s mouth. Very odd. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-08-2015.

The main reason this happens every year just outside of Moss Landing Harbor is because of a very unique geological feature found just outside the harbor.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Yesterday and today we had breaching and tail-lobbing all day long. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 08-08-2015.

It’s called the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. And the formation begins right at the Moss landing Harbor entrance.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

This was what I call a horizontal surface lunge. It’s a feeding technique these humpbacks occasionally use. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-08-2015.

It’s larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Within the Monterey Bay The Canyon can get to over 6,000 feet deep. Further outside the Monterey Bay The Canyon can get to 12,000 feet deep. This is known as an upwelling zone. We see massive marine life productivity along The Canyon ledges. Fortunately for us, it all starts right at the Moss Landing Harbor entrance. So we see massive humpback whale feeding events within five minutes of leaving the harbor.

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08-06-2015: 15+ Humpbacks Feeding With A Large Herd of Sea Lions

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

This is called spy-hopping. Humpbacks do this occasionally. They seem to do it to take a look around. If you look closely, you can see the eye of the whale. I enlarged the photo and it appeared to be looking right at me. Very cool. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-06-2015

There has been a big change over the last few days. The anchovies seemed to have bunched up nicely and it’s bringing the humpbacks and sea lions together. We’ve been seeing between 15-20 whales in front of Moss Landing for months now. However, they’ve been pretty well scattered over 2-3 mile area. They’ve also been coming up one at a time, breathing and going down. They have also been generally staying down longer with short surface times.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

It was nice to have the occasional surface lunge as pictured above. It hasn’t been non-stop lunge-feeding, but they have been popping up every once in a while. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 08-06-2015.

Over the last few days we’ve had 10-15 whales working with about 100 sea lions as they feast on the anchovies. Today, they were all right there next to each other and coming up all at once. It’s quite a spectacle.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

The Monterey Bay is a multi-use sanctuary. Here some salmon fisherman trolling. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-06-2015

First all the sea lions start popping up, splashing and barking. Then all the whales start popping up within feet of one another. The loud sound of their blows blasting one after another as they all surface. This is more what we were seeing during last summer’s massive feeding frenzy.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

A pair of humpbacks goes down for a dive. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

They’ve also been doing more surface lunge-feeding, spy hopping, breaches and tail-lobbing. The action seems to heating up. We’ll see what happens on Friday. Stay tuned for updates.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

The Mola Mola. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-06-2015.

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08-04-2015: Perfect Conditions All Day Long, 10-15+ Feeding Humpbacks In Front of Moss Landing

Monterey Bay Whale Watch

This breaching humpback must have startled the breaching sea lion right next to it. 60,000 lbs of humpback whale launching 20 feet in the air would certainly have a startling effect to anyone nearby. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-06-2015.

More humpbacks seemed to have shown up over the last few days. We have also been seeing large areas of anchovies at the surface.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch

This is the pectoral fin of a young humpback whale. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-05-2015.

At first the massive schools of anchovies appear darker areas of water. I’m talking large areas, like 1/2 mile or more in diameter. As you get closer and look down into the water, all you can see is anchovies. Right there at surface.

 

This has created perfect conditions for vertical surface lunge-feeding. Although we have no been seeing rampant lunge-feeding, there have been the occasional big, fatty whale heads popping up out of the water.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Tail-lobbing and breaching all day long. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

Today was all about the breaching and tail-lobbing. We had very active whales today. Many, many breaches, tail-lobs and tail slaps. It was remarkable. All day long on all trips, the jumping didn’t stop.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

More tail-lobbing. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 08-05-2015.

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07-31-2015: Calm, Nice Marine Conditions All Day Long, 10-12 Humpbacks Feeding Next To Each Other

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

A pair of humpback whales go down for a dive. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-30-2015

The marine conditions have been stellar over the last few days. We have also had more humpbacks show up outside of Moss Landing. We started out this morning with an 08:00 am trip. We had decent visibility to the South and to the West. But there was some fog to the North and to the Northwest.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Moss Landing Humpbacks go down for some anchovies. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-30-2015

We left the harbor going very slow. If there were any whales close by I didn’t want to miss them. Because there was a kind of light fog that made our visibility come and go. The fog did start to clear pretty well. But we still didn’t see any whales. They were not where they have been.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

More humpback whale fluking. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-30-2015

But I had the best visibility to the southwest and I could also see large numbers of sooty shearwater birds in that direction. So I made a course for the Southwest and followed the south ledge for about 4-5 miles. I didn’t see anything. I started to get worried. No whales for going on an hour. I don’t know when the last time this happened. I think the last time it took longer than an hour to find whales was going on two years now. This was disturbing. So I decided to head back across the ditch to the north ledge and see if anything was going on over there.

Monterey Bay Common Murres

Father and chick common murres. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-30-2015

Soon I noticed splashing. Looked like dolphins. So I got off the roof, took the helm back and made a course for the splashing dolphins. That would be the long-beaked common dolphins.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch

The three amigos going down for a dive. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-30-2015

So we spent about 30-minutes cruising around with about 30-50 dolphins as they rode the bow, alongside the boat and in our wake. That’s always fun.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

This young calf must have breached over one hundred times. We think it’s some kind of record. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-28-2015

But after a while we needed to start making our way back to the harbor. That’s when I noticed a couple of blows to the north on the inside of the Pajaro Hole. And then two more. And six more. The next thing we knew we were in them. With 10-12+ whales working a 1/2 mile area. They were all around. They would come together and we would see eight whales coming up and cruising by the boat right next to each other. It was some good watching. They were staying up good with short dive times and not going very far when they came up.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Whale watching on the Monterey Bay. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-31-2015

And this was pretty much the story for all the trips today. Many whales. But they moved about 2.5-miles to the North.

 

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07-26-2015: More Humpbacks Show up in The Monterey Bay and Moss Landing, Reports of Blue Whales and More

Moss Landing Humpback

Humpback takes a dive in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015.

The marine conditions have been unstable over the last week or so. But we have also had some of the best conditions of the year. So it’s been hard to predict.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Moss Landing humpback whale goes down for some anchovies. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015

The afternoon trips have been taking the most hits with generally windy conditions and lumpy seas. The good news is that there seems to be a mass of ocean life moving it’s way up the coast and into the Monterey Bay.

BBC Big Blue Live Crew

The BBC Big Blue Live crew has been filming in the Monterey Bay over the last week. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015

Moss Landing continues to be the sure thing for humpback whales as there have been between four and six humpbacks feeding daily in front of the Moss Landing Harbor for going on 2-years straight now.

Monterey Bay Sea Otter

Female sea otter warming her paws. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015

We have been getting the occasional tail lob or full-breach. But for the most part it’s been routine whale watching. The warmer water temps seem to have driven the anchovies deeper. So we’re seeing some long dives.

Monterey Bay Sea Otter

This sea otter somehow collected two crabs from the bottom and was eating one of the crabs while balancing both them on it’s chest. Photo: Michael Sack, 07-26-2015.

The whole mass of sea life was reported last week south of Point Sur in Big Sur (Humpbacks, dolphins, sea lions, blue whales, fin whales and more). Reports each day over the last week indicate that the whole mass of marine life is moving steadily to the north and into the Monterey Bay.

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Another humpback shows us it’s tail fluke. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015

We expect the feeding action to pick up soon as we have been seeing more anchovies at the surface over the last few days. Today we also heard reports of rampant lunge-feeding off  Point Pinos and Marina beach about six to eight miles to the south.

Monterey Bay Tern

A tern hovers above a dense school of anchovies just before plunge diving on them. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015.

Monterey Bay Northern Fulmar

This Northern fulmar was just hanging out there all alone. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015.

Monterey Bay Common Murres

A common murre chick and father. After the chicks fledge the nest, the fathers take over and teach the young bird to fish and survive in the ocean. The mother takes off and recuperates from laying and producing one of the biggest eggs compared to it’s body size. The eggs are also more conical in shape than other eggs. This is because these birds nest on cliff ledges. And if the egg gets nudged, it will roll more in a circular motion so as not to roll over the cliff. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015.

Monterey Bay Elephant Seal

A young elephant seal comes up to the surface to tank up on oxygen before submerging. The longest known dive of an elephant seal is almost two hours. But more routinely they are under for 30-minute periods. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-26-2015.

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