03-03-2012: Northbound Gray Whale Migration Continues, Plenty to go Around, Still Waiting on Cows and Calves, Orcas

Northbound Gray whales make their way toward the Arctic Sea. Photo: Sack

Another amazing day on The Bay today as we spent most of our time with three cooperative gray whales as they made their way across The Bay. After about an hour of running we came across our first spout well over a mile off. So we changed course and headed more toward shore so that the animal would be plenty far off to our right side as we got into the general area. We observed three or four more spouts between 5 and 10 minutes apart.

Then as we got closer we were able to observe a spout and a tail fluke. They were pretty high spouts and the animal was clearly heading south. Which would be very unusual for a gray this time of year. All the grays we have been seeing over the last week have been heading north. The tail fluke also went very high into the air. Not a normal gray fluke pattern because they’re not usually doing deep dives. They are pretty well just moving along to either get back up to their feeding grounds or down to Baja. We weren’t quite close enough to get a positive I.D. when the animal showed it’s tail fluke.

But it didn’t look like a gray whale from our vantage point. The blow was also a lot stronger than a typical gray whale. And when we got in the general area of where we last saw the animal, we never saw it again. So in light of the facts, we figured this was not a gray whale. We think it may have been a humpback. But we can’t be sure. That would be great news if that turns out to be the case.

After we lost that whale, we headed out to where we knew there were other whales. When we got on the scene of two more blows, these two were being pretty elusive. We saw a few blows and then the animal would pop up quite a bit north of our position. After a few times of this we decided to go find more cooperative animals.

After about 15 minutes of running further to the Southwest, we ended up with three very cooperative gray whales that stayed at the surface as much as they were down. It also gave a us a couple of decent tail fluke views and were pretty much just heading steadily to the Northwest toward Santa Cruz. We stayed with these animals for well over an hour.

The conditions today were fantastic. More sun and calm conditions with a slight NE wind. Just the way we like it. It makes all the difference in the world. Sunday should be about the same, maybe better. Hopefully we’ll come across some dolphins. Who knows, maybe even a humpback or some other species we don’t normally see.

About Michael Sack

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