Gray Whale Watching January 12 & 13, 2013
Saturday whale watchers were greeted by
sunny skies and a sighting of a gray whale mom/calf pair. We followed them for a
short while and wished them well on their journey to the lagoons 450 miles down
Baja California. The next sighting of gray whales gave us a good look but only
one fluke! In the mean time we came across different pods of common dolphins
which delighted all the passengers with their bow and stern riding.
Sunday was even better - lower swells and great visibility- and we followed 2
gray whales which exhibited the more normal pattern of 3-6 blows, showing their
flukes and surfacing within 5 minutes and repeating the same behavior again! The
crew searched and searched for the telltale signs of dolphins - flocks of bird
flying and diving- but to no avail. We all like to have a sightings of baleen
and toothed whales but then, finally, in the bay we saw a pod of onshore
bottlenose dolphins which rounded out our trip.
Gray Whale Watching January 8, 2013
It was a beautiful sunny day out on the
ocean and passengers who were both visitors and San Diego residents enjoyed the
gray whale watching cruise. The bottlenose dolphins in the bay off Point Loma
gave us our first sighting. As we cruised out toward the Los Coronados Islands,
we saw blows in the distance. This gray whale was not exhibiting the normal
behavior of 3-5 blows and then showing its flukes. However, we got a good look
at its barnacles and dorsal knuckles as it snorkeled along.
As we were leaving to find another whale a small pod of Pacific White Sided
dolphins came up to the boat. This is so special! This species of dolphin has
not been seen very much for the last two whale seasons and to see these most
beautiful dolphins was quite a treat.
Our next whale which we found close to Point Loma did fluke and give us a good
As we passed the bait docks, those bottlenose dolphins were back and rode our
bow practically back into the harbor.
A great day out on the ocean!
Gray Whale Watching January 1, 2013
It was a bit
of a gray day, but it didn't dampen the spirits of passengers on board the
Sea Adventure 80. As we proceeded to out into the ocean we were
greeted by dolphins and Gray Whales. The season has started out well with
good amounts gray whales being spotted.
December Whale Watching, 2012
I had a
fantastic time on my last trip from H&M Landing.
I always have a great time while enjoying the cool ocean breeze, and sharing
the whale watching adventure with family and friends.
We are have lots of fun on every trip.
Whales, birds, dolphins & sea-lions, are just a few of the many wonderful
marine animals that we see.
We see many other fantastic things too!
Old Point Loma Light house on top of beautiful Point Loma.
Thousands of sea birds and families of Sea Lions at the worlds larges live
bait receivers in San Diego.
Some great ideas for fine and fun dinning like Tom Ham's Light House and the
Bali Hai Restaurant.
We also see some fantastic land marks like the Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado
Naval Air base, the Submarine base at Ballast Point.
SUMMER BLUE WHALES MAY - OCTOBER
Nature Cruise Sunday, October 14
Unfortunately, the only baleen whale we saw was a brief glimpse of
that elusive Minke whale. As is usual, we hardly saw the low spout
and had a look at the back and then it disappeared. We did see two
pods of active common dolphins. A raft of sea lions was out by the
north island feeding along with the dolphins.
We see changes due to the autumn bird migration and preparation for
nesting and breeding that is taking place. The terns are gone, the
pelicans are starting to change color and the grebes are near the
It was a beautiful day for the last summer whale trip.
Nature Cruise Sunday, October 7
It was the day of the mola mola.
We saw the rare sight of a jumping mola to start out the day. The
second sighting was of two mola molas swimming together. Our final
view was of 5 young molas skittering around the boat. None of them
were on the surface on their sides, but a whaler on board took some
photos of them under the water. They are amazing creatures - laying
millions of very small eggs which then develop into a fish that can
weigh up to 4,000 pounds!
Although we did not see a baleen whale, 2 pods of common dolphins
entertained us by riding the bow and stern waves. There were many
moms and calves, also.
We all enjoyed the beautiful sunny day on the ocean.
Nature Cruise Thursday, September 13
We had a day of "twos”—two pods of common dolphins jumping,
tail slapping, bow riding; two flying fish (they look like giant dragon flies);
and two mola-molas in addition to two submarines. Unfortunately, there were no
baleen whales this trip.
Then an amazing thing happened: We had the first parakeet
rescue at sea which, I think, has ever been reported!
We were approaching Point Loma when suddenly a blue parakeet
dropped from the sky, probably from the mouth of a sea gull. The traumatized
little bird flew into the galley and under a table where a crew member picked it
up and sat holding it in his hand—both seeming very calm and happy.
One of the museum Whalers had experience with bird rescue and
rehabilitation and applied salve to the wound on its back while another whaler
taped a box to transport the bird to its new home. Thanks so much to a mom and
her daughter who volunteered to give this little bird a good home.
Once again, one never knows what will happen out on the ocean
off San Diego!
Nature Cruise Sunday, September 9
Another great sunny summer's day off San Diego had the
usual suspects. On our way north searching for the elusive blue whale we came
upon a great pod of common dolphins, which delighted the young girl from
Louisiana with their bow riding, which is so much fun on the Daiwa Pacific.
This trip had the most number and species of birds that we have had all summer.
Our passengers on this trip came from all over the world to
see the whales of summer!
Nature Cruise Thursday, September 6
From the wheelhouse: "We have a whale right in front of
us!" It was clear from the first sighting that this could only be a Blue. It
blew, showed its long grayish back and, just barely, the dorsal fin,
disappeared, leaving beautiful huge smooth fluke-prints, came up again several
times, and disappeared, without showing its fluke. For nearly two hours we
played a game with this whale, waiting for it to appear somewhere, getting
closer at full speed, watching the same sequence of blows, the back, dorsal fin
and fluke prints, sometimes from behind, sometimes from the side. We sure made
the most of this whale, the only one we would see all day!
Near Coronado Islands we played with 200 to 300 Common
Dolphins who were in the mood to ride our bow.
Nature Cruise Sunday, September 2
Nature Cruise Thursday, August 30
On our way out on “Ocean Odyssey” we saw some of the tall
ships entering the harbor for the Tall Ship Festival this weekend, delighting
our passengers, especially the children on board who saw "pirate ships." As we
headed for the 9-mile bank, the overcast skies dissipated and the sun and blue
sky were with us the rest of the day. To the east we could see the amazing,
immense cumulus clouds, which brought much needed rain to the back country.
Nature Cruise Thursday, August 23
We had a season's record for the number of species of
cetaceans seen off our coast in one day.
The count for the trip was five blue whales, five fin
whales and 60 bottlenose dolphin.
Nature Cruise Sunday, August 19
We all enjoyed a cooler day on the water.
Nature Cruise Thursday, August 16
We all enjoyed the cooler breezes out on the ocean.
Nature Cruise Sunday August 12 The
passengers were pleasantly surprised to see a pod of about 20 Risso's dolphins
looking so very different than other dolphins with their bulbous head and white
scarred bodies. It was thrilling to see Fin whales surface feeding and the
turning antics that sometime go with it -- giving us a good view of a belly and
a sideways fluke. Travelers from Germany to Oklahoma were with us having the
time of their lives. Two birthdays were aboard -- a shy four year old and a
spunky gal turning 87! She said she came to see big whales, and at the end of
the trip said "I saw what I came for." It was a day full of adrenaline caused by
spending so much of the afternoon with whales very close by -- two Fins came so
close we could see the white patch on the right lower jaw, one swam right under
the boat, and we actually heard more blows than I could count. In total, we
spent time with 10 Blue whales and 8 Fin whales -- their sheer size never fails
to impress. Yes, it was a perfect day at sea.
Nature Cruise Thursday August 9
Our first major encounter was a mega pod of common
dolphins; we estimate that over 1000 common dolphins entertained us with their
antics. Next we found ourselves surrounded by a large pod of the not-so-common
Risso's dolphins. They were a slow-moving group of geezers, which gave us
lengthy viewing time. Our next dolphin extravaganza was a pod of magnificent
offshore bottlenose in a bow-riding mood.
We were actually in dolphin overload when we encountered
two large fin whales. They too were in no hurry and swam alongside the boat,
never deep diving, for at least 30 minutes.
Continuing our quest for blues, we encountered one more fin
whale; two more pods of Risso’s, another good size pod of bottlenose, and
multiple sightings of said species in smaller groups. In spite of the absence
of blues, we all concluded that it was a fantastic voyage.
Photos of dolphin by Jason Hum
Nature Cruise Sunday August 5
As though even the whales are celebrating
the Olympics, the
highlight of today's whale-watching adventure was
the incredible experience of watching a single
humpback whale repeatedly breach. We lost count
after 30 breaches, some very close to the boat.
When it wasn't breaching it was slapping the surface
as only a humpback can do with those wonderfully
elegant large pectoral fins.
Everyone was smiling and cheering this
whale on as if he were going for the gold.
Nature Cruise Thursday August 2
It was another great summer's day on the ocean. We saw
common dolphins and a mola mola, which we have been fortunate to see on most of
these summer whale cruises.
We also sighted a large blow of a blue whale which came up
on our port side. Then on our starboard we saw another kind of whale which was
much smaller and appeared darker in color. What could it be? Was it a fin
whale? Finally, we saw the distinctive "hump" with a dorsal fin and then a
fluke. It was the first humpback of this summer season!
As the humpback was on a deep dive, we went and explored
the five blue whales (with more blows in the distance) and got some good photos
and information about these largest animals that ever lived.
Of course, we were all looking to see the humpback which
again appeared swimming in the vicinity of another blue whale. A mighty tail
twist from the humpback and a fluke from the blue whale put a perfect ending to
another great summer's day on the ocean.
Cruise Thursday July 26
Our record of seeing 20 blue whales on a trip has
been broken! We saw at least 30 blue whales up close with other blows
in the distance.
Two boats went out from H&M Landing and headed
north. The first blue whale was spotted by the 9-mile bank, followed by
another and then another.
We stayed in this same area and saw blue whales
traveling together in twos and threes. Everywhere we looked, we could
In the midst of them all, we saw a fin whale,
giving us an opportunity to compare the largest and second largest
baleen whale. Our last viewing was five blue whales all spouting and
showing their flukes.
To top it off, we sighted a pod of Risso's
dolphins—the first we have seen this season. They swam very close to
the boat so we could see the difference in their ages. The older
dolphins were whiter and more scarred than the younger, darker ones. We
could see them surfing the waves and tail slapping.
Another great day at sea!
Cruise Sunday, July 22
Our first sighting was a pod of 500 common dolphins which
looked smaller than the usual size we see and may have been a group of teenagers
on the loose—always a delight with jumps, tail slaps, riding the bow and stern
Our next sightings were two pairs of blue whales—the
introverts. They came to the surface for a few blows and then dove down, seeming
to be avoiding us we left them and headed south.
The next group of blue whales acted like they were
practicing for blue whale Olympics. They came to the surface, dove down and came
up again a long way away. Whichever pair could come up the farthest away seemed
to be the winner.
Then the grand finale: There were six whales close to the
north Coronado Island which finally showed flukes, gave us the pleasure of
hearing their blows and came up close to the boat for the best photo
opportunity. They left behind giant footprints resulting from the up and down
motion of their flukes.
Cruise Sunday, July 19, 2012
Today the orca was very curious about the boat. It stayed
with us for over an hour, coming close to the boat, rolling over and swimming
along the boat and under it to the other side. It was doing many fluke slaps.
In fact, at one point, it stayed within 50 feet of the boat and performed eight
fluke slaps in a row while swimming in a circle. Also, it sometimes just
stopped within 50 feet of the boat and just stayed there for a while, at other
times it would align itself with the boat and swim slowly right next to us (less
than 2 feet away).
After we did not see if for over one hour, as we looked at
blues, it re-appeared and was somewhat following a pod of about 1,000 dolphins.
It never actually attacked them, but it made them change their formation. At
one point, we think that we actually saw it swimming around and under the
dolphins within 50 feet of the boat.
It was an amazing sighting.
Report and photos by San Diego Natural History Museum
Whaler Jack Berdy
Cruise Sunday, July 15, 2012
We had a great trip out of H&M Landing on the Ocean Odyssey today. The
passengers, crew and volunteers from the San Diego Natural History Museum could
not believe their eyes when we saw this one Orca. A
large dorsal fin was
spotted through the window by the cook who was busy grilling, but rushed out to
make sure that he was seeing an Orca
and alerted us all to this very rare occurrence.
We all had great views
of it as it swam around the boat. Then it repeatedly swam under the boat -
sometimes upside down! We all got a lot of exercise rushing from one side to
the other to see this
amazing marine mammal.
We left it to get on with more whale watching and
boy, were we
rewarded. We saw 20 blue whales - blows all over the place and signs of them
feeding. We also sighted
4 fin whales, 2 megapods of common dolphins, 500 bottlenose and a really large
mola mola. Phew! - so much excitement.
Tired but very happy passengers returned to the dock with the volunteers rushing
off to tell their families and friends about this amazing day.
Whalers Heather, Karen L. and Judy L
Cruise Thurs, July 12, 2012
We had a wonderful day aboard the Top Gun with Capt. Scott
and crew. The passengers and Whalers were treated to some early entertainment as
we exited the bay when crew member Edgar tossed leftover bait fish overboard,
thus attracting a bazillion gulls, pelicans and other assorted bird life. A
massive cloud of feathered friends engulfed the boat to the amusement of all,
plus providing a brilliant photo op.
As for whales, we were treated to an early encounter in
shallow water by a big blue who was slowly cruising along. He allowed us a few
minutes of companionship before demonstrating his perfect high and wide fluke
and vanishing under the waves.
Heading for deeper waters, we spotted two more blues of the
shy variety. We just had brief glimpses of backs before they too departed the
scene. Early afternoon brought us much better luck: two magnificent blues who
were attempting to set an Olympic swimming-speed record, rapidly surface lunging
and churning the waters, demonstrating that blues can really move out when they
desire. They allowed us to accompany them for several miles, doing brief dives
and resurfacing close to the boat much of the time.
The day was short on dolphins, but we did get up close and
personal with a huge mola mola. Crew member Edgar estimated that it weighed
about 1,000 pounds, making it one of the largest that some of us had seen.
Cruise Sunday, July 8, 2012
Another great day on the water! We saw two things that we
rarely see on these trips: a sea turtle and an 8-foot-long jelly. Next we saw
11 blue whales scattered in twos and threes in 9-mile bank area, with many blows
in the distance. They gave us a great show; one fluked twice and then others
came quite close to the boat, lifting their giant heads as though they were
looking at us. In the distance we saw big splashes which indicated that the
whales were feeding on the abundant krill in the water, and at one point we saw
the distinctive orange-colored blue whale poop.
Just as we thought the whale sightings were over, we saw a
fin whale, which was very distinctive in color and in the size and shape of the
dorsal fin. To round out the trip, we saw a pod of around 500 common dolphins
doing their usual jumping, tail and head slapping and riding the bow and stern
Cruise Thursday, July 5, 2012
So, the day after the fireworks glitch, there were passengers who were in San
Diego celebrating the 4th of July and spent the day after by going out on our
ocean wilderness hoping to see the whales of summer. As we exited San Diego bay,
we were proceeded by an Navy aircraft carrier, the John C. Stennis which made a
short visit to our Naval Aircraft Basin to take on supplies and was headed back
to sea. We tarried by the bait docks to allow the aircraft carrier to go first
and saw the usual sea lions, pelicans, cormorants gulls and egrets. On entering
the ocean we spotted some common dolphins which were breakfasting on the small
fish off San Diego Bay and not much interested in interacting with the boat. We
proceeded to the 9 mile bank where we had had some luck seeing whales. Finally,
a big splash and two really big slick spots on the ocean alerted the museum
volunteers and Ocean Odyssey crew to be alert. A big fin whale surfaced - what
we all refer to as a "finicky" fin. The whale came up on one side for a brief
view, dove down, came up a ways away on the other side for another brief view
and continued this pattern of behavior. As the captain saw some other blows in
the distance, we took off and saw two other fin whales which were much more
cooperative and gave us some good photo opportunities. Time was short - we came
back to San Diego Bay and saw a Los Angeles class fast attack submarine being
escorted out of the bay by Naval Security which rounded out our July 5th trip -
we all had a good time!
Judy L, Gaynell and Jerry - San Diego Natural History Museum volunteers.
Cruise Sunday, July 1, 2012
What a day out on the water! We first encountered a lonely
mola mola to get folks interested. He fooled quite a few passengers for a while
since he seemed to be swimming vertically with his dorsal fin out of the water
and at higher speeds than we are used to seeing, so people thought that he was a
shark. A longer and closer look confirmed that it was in fact a mola mola.
We then came across a pod of about 800 or so common
dolphins that included several mom and calf pairs. In true dolphin style,
several were bow riding and performing great acrobatic jumps out of the water.
A short while later we saw a smaller pod of 50 or so offshore bottlenose
dolphins that offered a fantastic opportunity to compare the size and coloration
between these two species of dolphin.
A short while later we got our first glimpse of some blue
whales. It appeared to be a pair, and one was noticeably smaller than its
partner. They gave us some great sightings relatively close to the boat, and
then we continued on our search. As we got closer to the nine-mile bank, we saw
several more blows and before we knew it we were surrounded by whales! There
were several fin whales in the mix as well. At one point there was even a pair
of fin whales that were swimming and surfacing in unison for a few minutes! It
was a great day out of the water to be surrounded by whales. We counted a total
of 12 blues and 4 fins that gave us great views, and there were several more
blows in the distance in all directions. And for the bird lovers out there,
there was even a black vented shearwater sighting, as well as several sooty
Between all of the whale sightings, dolphin sightings, the
warm weather, the perfect amount of cloud cover, and the chocolate chip cookies
baked by the crew, it was yet another exceptional day to be out on the beautiful
waters of San Diego taking in all that this marvelous environment has to offer!
Whaler Kim plus Connie, Vicky and Heather
photos by Judy L.
Cruise Thursday, June 28, 2012
The two volunteers from the San Diego Natural History Museum (Judy and Emelia)
along with Judy who represented H&M Landing all agreed that we have never seen
the number of dolphins on one trip that we saw today. The first sighting was of
a megapod of at least a thousand common dolphins which came up to the boat - bow
and stern riding with those in the distance jumping at a height which looked
like at least 20 feet with others tail or head slapping. There were many
mom/calf pairs which delighted all the passengers. We think that this
interaction between boat and dolphins is the Disneyland ride for dolphins.
Then, as we continued out to the deeper water, we saw offshore bottlenose
dolphins and had an opportunity to compare the size and coloration between the
two species. They also came close and gave us another photo opportunity.
As we made our way out beyond the 9 mile bank, we came upon at every mile,
another pod of bottlenose dolphins. There were at least another 4 pods
sighted. Have we ever seen this many offshore bottlenose dolphins? In a word -
As we made our way back to San Diego bay, we saw another pod of common dolphins
which again swam up to the boat and provided another great photo opportunity.
For bird enthusiasts there was a sighting of a brown booby which followed us for
a while with the usual pelicans, terns, shearwaters, cormorants and gulls.
It was a beautiful summer's day on the ocean.
Cruise Sunday, June 24, 2012
to be THE SUMMER OF THE MYSTERY WHALES:
If you have been following the blog, the first summer
whale\ trip had a whale very rarely seen - a Sei whale
which was confirmed by a NOAA scientist thanks to great
pictures from a passenger.
The second whale trip was fairly straight forward with
The third - once again - what was that whale we all
thought. The dorsal fin looked like a fin whale and
when we finally got a good look at the body it appeared
the mottled gray color and had a big splash guard in
front of the blow holes like a blue whale. Could it be
a hybrid? There have been reports of whales resulting
from the mating of blues and fins. We could speculate
but - scientifically - only a DNA test would confirm.
Look at the pictures and see the anomalies.
The other whale we saw was equally mysterious. Once
again, looked like a fin but had a slightly different
dorsal fin. Seemed larger than a Byrde's - perhaps it
was the Sei we saw the first trip.
At least we were all clear on the dolphin species - a
pod of offshore bottlenose was sighted - the naturalists
gave a sigh of relief - those we knew for sure!
The pictures of the different whales are attached.
This is what makes going out on the ocean an adventure
for us all - never know what we will see but always
enjoy the ocean wilderness off San Diego.