04-01-2013: Rambunctious Humpbacks, Breaching Gray Whale, 20’+ White Shark and Perfect Weather Conditions

It just keeps getting better and better. The conditions were stellar today. It really doesn’t get much better as far as weather goes. Warm sun, glassy water and no swell.

Just as we were heading out of the harbor mouth I spotted our first blow just north of us not far outside the surf line. Very close in. So I started to make our way over in that direction. After a few minutes we saw the blow again. And eased over in that direction when this yearling gray whale unexpectedly breached. Quite a shocker. Then it did it again. Gray whales don’t breach very often here in the Monterey Bay. So that was a pleasant surprise. But they also seem to be very stealthy when they’re in the shallows. So we spent another 15 minutes trying to locate it and then gave up.

Braching Humpback

Here’s a Breaching Humpback photographed by one our captains. Photo: Eric Mailander, 04-01-2013.

We had some early reports of humpbacks a few miles out in front of Moss Landing. So we made a course and were on them in about 20 minutes. Sometimes I like to play around with this audio recording I have of singing humpbacks recorded in Hawaii. So as we got in the area I was hoping the animals would come up to us so that I could play the recordings over the loud speakers.

Sure enough. The pair we were with popped up about 30 yards from the boat. So I played the recording and they started making their way closer. Then one of them suddenly threw a major tail lob. It was probably just coincidental. Because I’ve done it before with no effect. But it was fun to try. They also gave us a couple of nice surface lunges with their mouths wide open.

After about an hour of hanging with these two feeding humpbacks, we decided to do a little exploring. I headed toward the south ledge of the canyon and as we were cruising along the canyon ledge I noticed something just under the water about 30 yards off our right side. So I stopped the boat the see what we had. It was big whatever it was. At first I though it was a “fluke print” of a whale. It looks kind of like a boil or smooth area with currents mixed in. After about a minute, we looked down right next to the boat and here was this light colored outline of a massive shark about 3′-4′ just under the surface. It ran half the length of our 43′ boat. Pretty intense. We really only got a glimpse and then it submerged. Very cool.

About Michael Sack

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