Notice the orange coloring on the eye patch of this very young orca. They’ll usually have this coloring until they are about a year old. Then it becomes more white. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017.
We had a couple of great looks at about 6-7 killer whales today. But these things were elusive. They gave the whole whale fleet the slip a few times until finally we all gave up as they took off at warp speed to the West. A few of us got lucky and the killer whales and had some great looks as they blasted by us. We saw this same group a few days ago. We had one distant look and that was that. We had a few good looks this time. A CBS news crew came out with us the other day. Here’s what they reported:
The sheer numbers of humpbacks right out in front of Moss Landing is astounding. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where you can stand on the beach and watch humpback whales on such a consistent basis and so close. These animals have been just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor for about the last month. Most of times we’re seeing them before we even leave the harbor.
We’re basically seeing them in small herds from just outside the harbor to 7-8 miles out and that’s about as far as most everyone’s been going lately. We have heard reports of concentrations of humpbacks and scattered blues as far out as 15-20 miles. They’re feeding on mixed batch of anchovies and krill. I estimate there are about 30-50 or more humpbacks in the Monterey Bay right now. Some days, probably more.
As they migrate from their breeding and calving grounds off the coasts of Southern Mexico and Central America, they make their way to Pacific Coast and more specially right here in front of Moss Landing to feed. The humpback population we see along the California coast will feed as far north as Oregon.
These animals are thought to be able to consume as much as 3,000 lbs of fish or krill per day. And it’s important that they do. Because when they are in their breeding and calving grounds from about December through March, there is not a lot of food for them to eat there. They rely on the blubber layer that they are building up as they gorge on fish and krill 24 hrs per day, 7-days per week here along the Pacific Coast. That’s pretty much all they’re doing here just off Moss Landing.
When they are not eating they’re looking for food or traveling in search of richer feeding grounds. It is truly remarkable that these animals can go without eating much for three months out of the year. Particularly incredible is the pregnant female’s ability to provide sustenance for the calf without eating for three months. Not only while she is carrying the calf, but also after the calf is born. A newborn calf is thought to be able to consume 500 gallons of 40%-50% fat rich milk.
Two humpback flukes.