Active Humpbacks in San Francisco – 16/8/19

On our first trip of the day we headed far out west, past the shipping lane. We ended up about 15 miles offshore. There we found five humpbacks feeding in 150 feet of water. The water color was a dark purple-brown color, suggesting that the whales might have been feeding on krill.

We saw lots of interesting behaviors from these animals, including lots of feeding behavior. We saw lunge feeding, fluke dives, and some coordinated behavior from two of the animals.

The whales were spread out except for two who continually surfaced together. There were birds hovering over the whales as they fed. We also saw a couple of breaches.

We could see fish in the water during the trip, including a mola mola. We had excellent conditions. It was sunny with no wind and only a little bit of swell. We stayed with the whales for about half an hour.

On our next trip we found two humpbacks feeding a few miles east of their earlier spot in 166 feet of water.

We saw more coordinated activity from these two whales, including a couple of double lunge feeds. We also got fluke dives from these animals.

As we floated in neutral, one of the whales approached within 50 yards of our vessel. It swam around our stern, then rejoined the other whale 150 yards west of us.  When they reunited, one of the whales began breaching.

It did full breaches twice, followed by 2-3 chin slaps. Some of the chin slaps were almost like half-breaches.

We spotted some water draining from the whale’s baleen during the chin slaps. Sometimes the whales open their mouths when excited, so it might have been draining out water that got in during the excitement.  The whales in this area were definitely feeding on anchovies. We spotted a few bait balls in the area. We also had lots of shearwaters present – both sooty and pink-footed.


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

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