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

About Michael Sack

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