01-31-2015: Feeding Humpbacks, Mating Gray Whales and Common Dolphins

Moss Landing Common Dolphin

These long-beaked common dolphins came buzzing through the area. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015.

It’s looking more and more like we are going to experience what could be a historical first here in the Monterey Bay. That would be year round reliable humpbacks in good numbers feeding right out in front of Moss Landing. It pretty much hasn’t stopped since they came back last March. A major change in the migratory behavior of at least some of these Moss Landing Humpbacks.

Moss Landing Huimpback Whale

After tail-lobbing and breaching, this lively young humpback also repeatedly slapped it’s pectoral fin. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2014.

Today we had breaching and tail lobbing humpbacks. Maybe 6-10 whales in all. Just incredible. Usually, the majority of our humpbacks in the Monterey Bay migrate to Southern Mexico in November and December. Humpbacks were rarely spotted in The Bay from January through March.

Moss Landing Common Dolphin

These common dolphins were scattered throughout about a 1-mile area. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015.

We also had a rare encounter with mating gray whales today. It is very unlikely that these gray whales we encountered today will make it all the way down to their historical mating and calving grounds. We usually start to see the northbound gray whales coming through the Monterey Bay on their way to Alaska in March.

Moss Landing Gray Whales

Today we had the rare encounter with three mating gray whales. That’s how they do it. It’s usually a threesome. Note the rake marks on the tail fluke of the gray whale to the left of the photo. Clearly this gray whale had an encounter with a killer whale at some point. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-15-2015.

Moss Landing Gray Whales

Gray whale tail fluke. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015.

We are only one month away from the traditional start of our humpback whale season. That’s when the majority of the Eastern Pacific population of humpback whales begin to return to their feeding grounds along the Pacific Coast and more specifically right out in front of Moss Landing.

Moss Landing Gray Whales

The grays whale doing their mating behavior. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015.

The big difference this year was that some of these humpbacks never did the southbound migration. I believe we are seeing migratory evolution right before our eyes. Truly remarkable.

Peregrine Falcon

This is our resident Moss Landing Peregrine Falcon. Moss Landing is truly an incredible area for wildlife. Just incredible. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015

We haven’t even done any gray whale trips yet. But we have been seeing them on occasion right out in front of Moss Landing.


Moss Landing Peregrine Falcon

This peregrine falcon likes hanging out on our sailboat spreader. Photo: Michael Sack, 01-31-2015.

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