07-24-2017: Many Humpbacks Within a Few Minutes of Moss Landing, More Blue Whales Starting to Show Up

Moss Landing Humpback Whale This humpback jumped about 10 times. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017

The action continues out in front of Moss Landing. Many humpbacks just outside of the harbor. There were also blue whales starting to move in. We were on two of them about five-miles out. We could see many more blue whale blasts further out to the west. Stay tuned for what happens today.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Here it is again doing a chin slap. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017.

Monterey Bay Blue Whale We saw what appeared to be many blue whales moving into the Monterey Bay today. Photo: Sack, 07-24-2017.

06-29-2017: “Fat Fin” The Killer Whale Shows Up Again, Humpbacks, Dolphins and More

Moss Landing Killer Whale “Fat Fin” the killer whale out in front of Moss Landing Harbor.

Second day in a row we saw “Fat Fin” the killer whale. This orca is a frequent visitor to the Monterey Bay. The Humpbacks have scattered a bit compared to last week. We’ve only had a handful right out front instead of the 20 or so some-odd we’ve been seeing for the last couple of months.

Monterey Bay Pacific White-Sided Dolphin Pacific white-sided dolphin rides our wake alongside the boat.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Humpback whale cruising for krill off Moss Landing.

They’re still around, just not concentrated. We’re still getting some great looks and reports of many whales throughout the Monterey Bay. Nice conditions overall. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

06-05-2017: Many Humbpacks Everywhere in The Bay, Biggest Concentrations off Moss Landing

Moss Landing Harbor Seal Friendly harbor seal just outside of Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Sack

The summer action is starting to kick into full-gear as more and more humpbacks start showing up through out the Monterey Bay. We’ve also been seeing Pacific white-sided dolhpins, Risso’s dolphins, Northern right-whale dolphins, black-footed albatross and a lot more.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Quite the lunge-fest we witnessed. We’ve been seeing regular lunge-feeding. Photo: Sack

Conditions have been nice in the morning with a little more lump and wind in the afternoon. Today we had a great look at a friendly harbor seal. The animal just casually swam alongside the boat and looked at everyone standing on the rail. It was pretty cool.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale We get on these lunge-feeding events and sometimes they last for hours or days, sometimes an hour. Photo: Sack

We’re starting to see more and sea nettle jellies. That’s why we’ve also been seeing some 4′-5′ mola mola’s. Their favored prey is the sea nettle jelly.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale I love when they go into a feeding frenzy. Photo: Sack

Overall the humpbacks have been putting on a pretty good show. Some trips they are more active than others. But on every trip the sheer numbers of whales and usually dolphins we see is astounding. The action should just start getting better.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Non-stop for about an hour and that was that. Photo: Sack

The salmon bite is on again as well. A commercial guy came in with 29 fish the other day. That’s a good score for out here over the last few years. The system seems to be thriving.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale The rostrum of the humpback whale. Photo: Sack.

06-03-2017: Humpbacks Continue Feeding In Front of Moss Landing, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins

Check out some video from a recent trip

Pacific White-sided Dolphin Pacific White-sided dolphins were going nuts. They were chasing fish right along side the humpbacks. It’s amazing. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing continues to be the place to be for whales and dolphins on the Monterey Bay. Right now we’re talking humpbacks, Pacific white-sided dolphins, northern right-whale dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and more. If you take a boat out of Monterey or Santa Cruz, you will likely end up on an hour or more boat ride to Moss Landing before you see anything worthy. Because that’s where the big show is. We’re on the animals 10-minutes from the time leave the harbor. You get a lot more face-time with animals if you leave out of Moss Landing.

Northern right-whale A Northern right-whale dolphin breaches. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Today we came across many groups of humpbacks as we explored along the north ledge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. We also came across scattered groups of Pacific White-sided dolphins. So that was fun. They were giving us some nice bow riding views.

Pacific white-sided dolphins riding our wake. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

Moss Landing Pacific white-sided dolphins These things were in full feeding frenzy mode. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

We had some great looks at the Northern right whale dolphins this week also. We don’t see this species as often as some of the others. But when we do, they often occur with the Pacific White-sided dolphins. So we’re always on the look out for the odd looking dolphin with no dorsal fin. We had them jumping in the air earlier in the week.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Close-in humpback whale. That’s Moss Landing Beach in the background, just north of the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Michael Sack.

There was also a black-footed albatross or two soaring around close to the water as they ride the air lift above the swells. The black-footed albatross are incredible birds. They fly all the way from nesting sites in the Hawaiian Islands. They lock their wings into place and can do something called dynamic soaring. They use the wind.

They are thought to have a lower heart rate when they are flying than when they are in the water. They are part of the tubed nose order. They can desalinate sea water to drink using a tube above their beak. They feed mostly on fish, squid, dead sea animals. We always see them show up during killer whale predation events.

black-footed albatross Black-footed albatross. Photo: Sack

It’s just incredible out there right now. But make sure you go out of Moss Landing. Much more face time with the animals and we also have more time to explore if we want. Plenty of room on all our trips. Trips depart daily at 09:30

05-25-2017: Moss Landing Whale Park Officially Open, Killer Whales Today, Huge Influx of Humpbacks, Occasional Blue Whale

Monterey Bay Killer Whales 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:

CBS News reports from the Sanctuary

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Young killer whale breaches. Photo; Sack , sanctuarycruises.com. 05-11-2017.

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.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Moss Landing Humpback Whale. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017.

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.

Monterey Bay Mola Mola Mola Mola

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.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Another pair of humpbacks just off the beach in Moss Landing. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-25-2017

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.

Monterey Bay Harbor Seal A friendly young harbor seal. This thing had to have only been two-feet long. Photo: Sack. 05-23-2017.

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.
Monterey Bay Humpback Whale Two humpback flukes.

Monterey Bay Elephant Seal This is a young elephant seal we came across.

05-10-2017: Ten to Twenty Humpbacks Just Outside Moss Landing Harbor Mouth, More Blue Whales Show Up

Check out some video from today

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales Humpbacks do a vertical lunge as they chase anchovies up out of the water. This was one of the photographs taken by one of the participants in our photography workshop on Tuesday. Thanks for the awesome photos James! Photo by: Jim Quaschnick 05-09-2017

It just keeps getting better and better. So far sightings and conditions are setting up to be another year where we have the many humpbacks feeding just off the beach in Moss Landing. People can go down to the beach and watch whales from the beach in Moss Landing.

Moss Landing Sea Otter This old guy was hanging out on the dock near the Sanctuary. Photo: Sack, 05-10-2017

We have seen some lunge-feeding outside the harbor, but not frequent yet. There has been huge schools anchovies bunched up against the canyon wall out in front of the Moss Landing Harbor. So it’s attracting many humpbacks, sea lions and birds.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales This was sort of a combination surface lunge and spy hop.

Over the last week or so we’ve had about ten, rampant lunge-feeding humpbacks off of Marina beach out in front of the sand plant. The first day we were with them I was in about 18-feet of water just outside the surf. We’re talking full on vertical lunge-feeding. These things were popping their big-fatty-heads ten feet up out of the water. Hundreds of sea lions and birds going wild right in the middle of it all. Quite a spectacle.

Monterey Humpback Whales More lunging. This went on for about three hours. Photo: Michael Sack, 05-09-2017

We were fortunate enough to have the same feeding frenzy happening on our afternoon, sunset photography workshop on Tuesday. Passengers got some amazing photographs. Here’s a few of the photo’s

Monterey Bay Humpback Whales A Humpback whale lunge feeding the in the Monterey Bay. Photo: Jim Quaschnick, JQphoto.com 05-09-2017

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale A Humpback whale side roll feeding the in the Monterey Bay, Monterey Ca.. Photo: Jim Quaschnick / JQphoto.com 05-09-2017

No one has found the killer whales for the last few days. But everyone’s looking. We did a few runs along where we’ve been seeing them but didn’t find them. We did find a lot of black-footed albatross. We’ve seen a couple of flocks of about 8-9. And more flying around.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale More lunge-feeding. Photo: Chase Dekker

There were also several sightings of blue whales. We had excellent looks at a blue that tracked along side us and then turned toward us at one point. So that was incredible. Conditions were also perfect today. Calm and glassy all day long.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale Side lunge. If you look closely you can see the whale’s eye. Photo: Chase Dekker

We’ll see what happens Thursday. Eric Mailander will be out there scouting around on his high speed skiff “Flatline”. We’re due for another orca sighting. This time of year there are usually a few boats out there focused on finding the orcas. So hopefully someone will find them on Thursday. We’ll report back later Thurs. or Friday morning.

California Brown Pelican California brown pelican cruises for leftovers. Photo: Chase Dekker.

05-08-2017: Incredible Monterey Bay Feeding Event Continues

Here’s some video from today’s trip:


The action continues to get better and better. And it’s all happening just outside the Moss Landing Harbor. Today we had humpback whales right out the gate. We’re actually seeing the humpbacks before we even get out of the harbor mouth. So that’s always good. Makes it easier on everyone.

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Moss Landing Killer Whales on the hunt. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 05-08-2017

Well, except the boats out of Monterey. Because they’ve been having to come over here to Moss Landing lately to get in on the real action. The Moss Landing Whale Park is officially open for the season. Usually lasting from now until the end of November. With peak action between now and October.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale The humpbacks have been feeding just outside of the Moss Landing Harbor. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com, 05-08-2017

After about an hour we decided to head out and look for orcas along the north ledge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon. There always seems to be more productivity along the canyon ledges.

Storm Petrel

So I made a course for an area where we’ve been seeing them for the last couple of weeks. It wasn’t long before we spotted tall black fin of the male orca. On a full-size male that dorsal fin can be up to six feet tall. Then we spotted the other three. They were not shy at all. They cruised next to the boat and under the boat multiple times. I love seeing these animals so close up. You get a better appreciation for how big they are. We saw them on both trips today and had fantastic encounters.

Monterey Bay Blue Whale There seems to always be at least one blue whale in The Monterey Bay over the last couple of weeks. As we get closer to June we generally start to see bigger numbers of blue whales in the Monterey Bay. Photo: Michael Sack, 05-08-2017

We also had a couple of great looks at the mighty blue whale. The largest animal to have ever roamed the earth. So that was cool. The heavy winds we’ve had lately seem to have been pushing some birds that we don’t see as often into The Bay. Good looks at storm petrels and many black-footed albatross.

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Two humpbacks head back toward Moss Landing in pursuit of anchovies. Photo: Michael Sack, 05-08-2017.

At one point we came across a flock of about 9-10 albatross in the water and more flying around. The Monterey Bay is incredible right now. Everything is on a feeding frenzy. It’s an incredible spectacle to behold.

04-20-2017: Orcas Show Up, Humpbacks, Gray Whales and More

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Killer whales show up and find something. We’re never saw what they were eating. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-20-2017

The Spring action continues as The Monterey Bay delivers amazing sightings today in clean conditions.

Monterey Bay Killer Whales They seemed to be feeding on something down there. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-20-2017.

Monterey Bay Killer Whale Big male orca, Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-20-2017.

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Female circling the area. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-20-2017.

Monterey Bay Killer Whales Another large male. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 04-20-2017.

04-19-2017: 30-50+ Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay, Blue Whales, Albatross and More

Moss Landing Humpback WhaleHumpback whales surface lunge-feed on anchovies. Photo: Sack, www.sanctuarycuises.com.

Conditions have been incredible. Today it was calm and glassy for the whole trip with only a light breeze in the afternoon. Many humpbacks have shown up all along the California coast over the last week. Pretty heavy numbers. Particularly right out in front of Moss Landing. Probably between 15-20 humpbacks within 6 miles of Moss Landing. We’ve heard reports of massive amounts of anchovies close in from Marina/Monterey area all the up past the Pajaro as far North as Aptos. Things could be setting up for another year of close in surface feeding humpbacks. For now, we’re back to consistent humpbacks in good numbers within a few miles of the harbor. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s sure thing right now. We might start running some two hour trips for young family’s. Sometimes a four-five hour trip can be a bit much for some. So look for those 2-hour trips in the coming weeks.

Monterey Bay Blue Whale We were stoked to get on these three blue whales. Thanks to Eric Mailander for putting us on them. Here’s one of them. The mighty blue whale. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

We have also have been getting reports of other scattered groups of 10-15 humpbacks in various other areas of The Bay. Like Monterey and south to Pt. Lobos. Also up toward Santa Cruz and to the west.

Check out some video from today’s trip:

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale Video with Sanctuary Cruises

So it’s nice to have a choice of which group of whales to hang out with. We also heard reports of dolphins to the south heading north.

Monterey Bay Fur Seal It was nice to run across this fur seal. Photo: Michael Sack, www.sanctuarycruises.com

On Tues. we had nice looks at albatross and a fur seal. The humpbacks have been feeding on both krill and anchovies. We’ve seen both. over the last few days. The Spring humpback stampede is on!

Monterey Bay Black-footed Albatross Black-footed albatross sitting on the water. These remarkable birds fly all the way from Hawaii in search of food. They’re wing span can be over 6-feet widd. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com

03-23-2017: Rampant Lunge-Feeding Humpbacks, Common Dolphins

Moss Landing Humpback Whale Lunge-feeding Humpback whale. These things were doing this every few minutes. Photo: Sack 03-23-2017

Epic day on the Monterey Bay. Conditions were questionable early on. We had a pretty solid lump on the water. This can make it difficult for spotting. We have what we call a troft. With a 6′-8′ troft sometimes animals and their blows can be hard to see.

Moss Landing Humpback Whales Lunge-feeding for an hour straight. Photo: Sack 03-23-2017.

But after about 45-minutes of running we came across a few blows and slowed the boat to get a feel for what direction they were heading and what they were doing. So we hung with a couple of different pairs of humpbacks that appeared to be feeding at about 80′-100′. I could see what looked like tailfish marks on the meter. So that was cool.

Moss Landing Humpback whales The humpbacks are back. We’ve only had to got a few miles lately to find whales. It’s nice to be on them within 30-minutes of leaving the harbor. Photo: Sack 03-23-2017.

But then one of the passengers spotted a nice pod of long-beaked common dolphins. Now we’re talking. Dolphins area awesome. They like to follow the boat and bow ride and jump out of the water. It amazing. As they bow ride and jump out of the water alongside the boat, we can hear them “clicking”. This “clicking” sound is the dolphins using an adaptation known as “echo location”. As the dolphins send out a sound wave or “click”, the sound wave will bounce off objects and back to the dolphins lower jaw. Where it’s widely thought that they are able to interpret distance, shape and density of objects within it range.

More Lunge-feeding. Photo: Sack 03-23-2017

After tracking three to four different humpbacks, we noticed another 4-5 humpbacks “lunge-feeding on the inside. Maybe a mile or so from our position. We were on it. Full on feeding frenzy complete with California Brown Pelicans diving, cormorants, long-beaked common dolphins and more.

Moss Landing Loon We’ve been seeing lots of loons. Photo: Sack, 03-23-2017

Incredible trip. The Spring action has begun! As we get closer to April, we should start to see more orcas showing up in The Bay. They’ll be here stalking the gray whale mother calve pairs that will soon be making their way up from the breeding and calving grounds in the warm water lagoons of Pacific Baja. These animals travel over 10,000 round trip.Thought to be the longest migration of any mammal. And they do it without eating. They rely on that blubber layer to get through the 3-4 months they spend in Baja.


We headed out of the harbor while getting a lot of looks at sea otters eating fat innkeeper worms and many bird species from grebes, buffleheads, loon, pelicans, and more. We traveled out due west and kept scanning the horizon for blows. We got out to about 8 miles when all of a sudden a bull orca emerged only 150 feet off our port side. There ended up being two bull orcas who were patrolling the area as they would head from east to west after every other dive cycle. We followed them for nearly an hour before heading further out west where we found a lone humpback whale feeding with a group of sea lions and thousands of birds. On the way home, we ran into the two bull orcas again who were only 3 miles outside the Moss Landing harbor. Good trip!

01-29-2017 Gorgeous Conditions, Humpbacks, Grays and Common Dolphins

href=”http://sanctuarycruises.com/captains_log/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1_28_Gray_Whale-1.jpg”> Gray Whale at Moss Landing Harbor Mouth[/caption]

Today was spectacular out there on Monterey Bay. Sunny clear skies, calm seas and some lovely cetacean sightings. First, we came upon a pod of hundreds of long-beaked common dolphins that played around our bow in clear blue water interacting with the boat and thrilling our passengers for a very long time. Then we spotted a young humpback whale that surfaced and fluked over and over, later being joined by a second young humpback. Finally on our way in, we spotted a single gray whale heading south right past the harbor mouth. Inside the harbor we were greeted by 15 feeding sea otters. What a day!

01-15-2017: Humpbacks Still Feeding in front of Moss Landing, Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Gray Whales and More

Monterey Bay Common Dolphins “Porpoising” long-beaked common dolphins. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017

Another epic day on the bay. It looks like we could have winter feeding humpbacks this year. There were at least 8 out in front of Moss Landing today.

Monterey Bay Common Dolphins More long-beaked common dolphins. Photo: Chace Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.

There were also some straggler gray whales passing through. The real action came from the common dolphins. We had 500+ running with along side, behind and in front of us as we moved through the water. Check out the video below:

Monterey Bay Long-beaked common dolphins

They often like to use the energy of our boat moving through the wate and the wake that it creates as they continually leap all around the boat while they move through the water at a high rate of speed. It’s awesome to watch.

Monterey Bay Humpback Whale
Monterey Bay Humpback Whales still feeding in front of Moss Landing. Photo: Chase Dekker, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.

Moss Landing Great Blue Heron
Moss Landing Great Blue Heron. Photo: Sack

Monterey Bay Common dolphins
Monterey Bay common dolphins. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.

Monterey Bay Whales We had great looks at humpback whales. Photo: Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-15-2017.


California Gray Whale

01-14-2016: Humpbacks, mating gray whales, common dolphins, Pacific White-sided dolphins excellent conditions and more.

California Gray Whale One of the three mating gray whales we were with today. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-14-2017

Incredible day on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Sunny conditions and calm seas. Doesn’t get much better for Winter whale watching.

Spy-hopping gray whale. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-14-2017 Spy-hopping gray whale. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-14-2017

We came across some common dolphins right outside the harbor. Then we had great looks at a young humpback 20-minutes out the gate. After about 15 minutes we decided to head out further and see what else we could see.

California Gray Whale This is gray whale mating behavior. Notice the pink. That’s the male gray whale’s penis. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycrusies.com 01-14-2017

That’s when we noticed some splashing about a mile from our position. It turned out to be three mating gray whales and about 15 Pacific white-sided dolphins.

California Gray Whale More gray mating behavior. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-14-2017

It was quite a display of nature. We were with them for almost an hour.

California Gray Whale More spy-hopping. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 01-14-2017.

1-11-17 Stormy Conditions kept us in port, but seas are calming now

Moss Landing Humpback Whale

Moss Landing humpback whale doing a fluke up dive. Photo: Michael Sack, sanctuarycruises.com 07-19-2015

We have not been able to venture out into the bay this year yet, due to stormy seas. We know the gray whales are in full force on their southbound migration through outer Monterey Bay and hope the handful of humpbacks feeding a few miles from Moss Landing harbor are still around. Let’s go find out! Some of our most magical trips have been on calm January days. We are running trips Friday through Monday in January.