A Rare Baird’s Beaked Whale Sighting! – 18/9/16

Whale Watching had always been at the top of our to do list in Monterey-it had been too long since I had been out on a boat!  We were hoping to see Blue Whales or something else that’s rare up in BC so we signed up for the 8 hour trip with Monterey Bay Whale Watching.

It was SUPER foggy when we headed out at 8am but we were assured by our naturalist that it would soon burn off.

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All we could see was birds right up close to the boat!

It wasn’t actually too long until we saw our first Humpback-a super active juvenile who we spotted pec slapping from quite far away

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He continued pec and tail slapping for a good chunk of time

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before he fluked, and – we thought- diving away…then out of nowhere (so of course cameras were down) a giant full 360 spinning breach! It never gets old seeing an animal of that size coming completely out of the water!

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Just the hint of a rainblow

After another half breach and some more slapping he dove (for real this time) and we headed further out into the Bay.

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The fog burnt off as we travelled and we saw a few humpbacks here and there but we didn’t stop until we found a pod of Risso’s Dolphins!

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Although we saw just a few at first we soon discovered that there were over 1000 all around us!  It was truly amazing to see dolphins everywhere you looked, especially these ones with all the scars and funny shaped melons.

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We stayed with the pod for quite sometime-although less acrobatic than most dolphin species they were quite active and riding the waves while a few of the juveniles did some half breaching and tail lobbing

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When they started to disperse out we headed further out spotting humpback blows from far away, expecting to be heading out over the canyon where there was a group of feeding humpbacks.  Our plans were thwarted however when our captain spotted funny short puffy blows which turned out to be Baird’s Beaked Whales!

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We couldn’t believe it!  We had so many animals on our bucket list we were hoping to see but Beaked Whales are so rare that we never even THOUGHT they were a possibility.

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They had been spotted in that area (only a mile away from where we saw them!) a few days before but still, never something we would’ve thought we would have been able to see.  We watched the group of six for about 20 minutes-they were not very active, just sitting on the surface breathing, recovering from their deep diving.  When they dove again it was without warning, no arching of their back and no tell-tale fluke, it was just like they had gone just under the surface again only this time they didn’t come back up.

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We ended up having a lunch break on the boat and waiting in that spot to see if they would come up again-and they did over 30 minutes later!  In almost the exact same location!  So crazy!

We watched them again sit on the surface and recover from their latest dive.  All Beaked Whales have incredible adaptations for diving and these Baird’s were no exception-the craziest thing about them was how big they were!  Almost as long as a Sperm Whale but so weird looking with their square melon and their long pointed beak.  Such a strange but amazing species

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Once the beaked whales dove again we headed back into the bay, seeing humpbacks now and then travelling and diving

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We then spotted a huge group of California Sea Lions all porpoising and feeding together and right among with them was two humpbacks!

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These cooperative feeding events have been happening more and more in the Bay recently, with the sea lions and humpbacks working together to forage on anchovies.  We stayed with these guys for quite a while-just the sight of that many sea lions all swimming and jumping together was amazing

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but the whales were also incredible-they fluked over and over again but came up very often as they were only diving down briefly for a fishy snack.

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We ended our trip with some Black Footed Albatross and a Sea Otter right in the harbour and although we didn’t get to check Blue Whales off our list, it was an amazing experience we will never forget!

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img_4011-640x427-Lindsay (photos by Nicole)

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