12 Hours in Monterey Bay – 26/10/19

For this trip we arrived in Monterey at 7:00 in the morning, ready for a full day of searching for animals. As we left the dock, we took a minute to observe the sea lions on the jetty. They were resting on the rocks and in the water. There were a few rafts nearby. The sunrise provided some especially beautiful lighting.

We continued on towards Moss Landing Marine Labs, where there were several sea otters feeding and resting in the kelp beds.

After spending some time with the otters, we headed northwest in search of some cetaceans. It wasn’t long before we received news of an active humpback.
The humpback whale was breaching continuously, usually after a fluke dive.

This whale had a rectangular patch of barnacles on its back. I wondered if the whale perhaps had some kind of propeller scar in that area, making it easier for barnacles to colonize. The barnacles could also have been itchy, causing the whale to breach.

We watched this whale for a while, starting to spot other spouts in the area. There were a couple of other humpbacks in the general area and some huge spouts in the distance, likely blue and fin whales.

We decided to check out the larger whales in the area. The Fin Whales were actively diving, so we approached the blue whales. After losing track of them, we were scanning all around us when a blue whale surfaced 50 yards from our vessel.

This whale was one of a pair of Blue Whales that was traveling in the area. They were diving in synchrony right next to each other.

After watching the blue whales, we relocated the fin whales and saw them from about 100 yards. After leaving these animals, we made our way along the continental shelf looking for other species. We spotted some interesting birds, including Black-footed Albatrosses and Rhinoceros Auklets.

Eventually we found several more active humpbacks.

Two humpbacks were surfacing right next to each other in synchrony. One of them slapped its tail several times in a row.

We also saw a few full breaches from one of the whales.

These whales were feeding near a raft of sea lions. At one point the sea lions swam right up to the boat. We started to head south, where we were seeing more spouts and a few other whale watching boats.

There turned out to be more active humpbacks in this area, including one that was continuously breaching and chin slapping. As the swells and wind waves increased, so did the activity from this whale.

The humpback had propeller marks on her side, which in combination with fluke photos allowed the crew to identify her as CRC-16063 “Ratchet”, a 4 year old female.

Ratchet continued to breach and chin slap over and over again as she slowly headed northwest. One other whale was in the same area as her. The crew counted at least 173 breaches and chin slaps from Ratchet during the time that we observed her.

After watching her for a long time, we finally turned around and headed home. We were treated to a beautiful sunset on our way in.


This post was adapted from a blog, read the original here

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