07-06-2016: Summer Action Heats up Two Miles Outside of Moss Landing


Moss Landing Humpback Whale Breach

This was one of two humpback whales that were repeatedly breaching. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016.

It’s been hit or miss over the last few weeks. We’ve also been hit by strong afternoon winds. So we’ve had to cancel a lot of afternoon trips. But it looks like all the wind and upwelling is starting to pay off. After a slow start to the late Spring and early Summer, the action really kicked into overdrive today.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

We call this a chin slap. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016

I’ve mainly been working on the sailboat over the last few weeks, so I haven’t been getting out as much. We’ve had captain JJ running. So I haven’t been able to update the Captain’s Log for awhile. But I’m back now and plan on updating daily.

Moss Landing Common Dolphins

These common dolphins were out of there as soon as they realized there was an orca around. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycryuises.com 07-06-2016

Excellent day today. We were on long-beaked common dolphins within about 10-15 minutes. Conditions were nice early on. That’s why we’ve pushed most of our 10:30 AM trips up to 09:00 AM. It gives us a better calm weather window to get out further if we need to. Because lately, we’ve needed to.

Moss Landing Killer Whale

“Fat Fin” the killer whale on the prowl. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 07-06-2016.

But today was a big change up. About 15-minutes after we left the common dolphins we saw some splashing on the horizon and what looked like a buoy. But we kept looking at the same area. We kept seeing something coming up and going down.

But it was bigger than a dorsal fin and smaller than lunge-feeding humpback. Our photographer / naturalist Chase thought it was an orca and I thought it was lunge-feeding humpback. Turns out Chase was right. I think it was spy hopping when we saw it in the distance.

As we got closer we were clearly on a single, large male orca. We’ve seen this animal before. It’s been frequenting the Monterey Bay over the last few days. We call him “fat fin” on account of the very wide base of his fin where it rises from it’s saddle.

We were as excited as can be. And it was staying up nicely and traveling slowly toward Moss Landing. And we knew there were dolphins in the area. So things were looking interesting.

Sure enough. This single male orca was making it’s way toward a small group of unsuspecting long-beaked common dolphins. Apparently it’s hard for a single male orca to take a common dolphin. We know he tried because these common dolphins took off in a high-speed stampede. But the orca didn’t seem to have been able to get any of them.

As we were tracking the orca, we came across a couple of humpbacks that were closer in to Moss Landing. So it’s feeling like the good ole days of last year. Close in cetaceans. After a while we had some reports of at least three more humpbacks another mile or two to the south. So we made a course for that location. It wasn’t long before this massive, full-size humpback whale launched itself completely out of the water just off our starboard forward quarter.

Then another one launched. Then they both launched. Very spectacular. Hopefully we’re just getting started and action will continue. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

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