Weekly Report ~ December 16 – January 1, 2022
Happy New Year! The Gray Whale Highway in front of Dana Point Harbor is open!
We started the week with Fin whales feeding and ended with Gray whales migrating south very close to shore, often in less than 100 feet of water. Several of the traveling in groups of one, two, or three seem to stop just north of the Dana Point Headlands. Occasionally, some will circle back as far north as Salt Creek Beach, sometimes pausing or resting before continuing south. Most Gray whales travel at a steady rate of about 3-5 miles an hour, with some even faster.
We are still seeing huge pods of long-beaked common dolphins, and twice this week, we saw spectacular stampedes as the entire pod of dolphins started porpoising and racing across the water’s surface. During other encounters, they often came together in tight groups to devour huge schools of bait fish. Fin whales joined in these feeding frenzies observed several miles off the coast.
Pods of often 30 or more offshore bottlenose dolphins have been extremely active, often racing towards us to play. We had numerous encounters with them where many were surfing and breaching in our wake as they seemed to chase after us.
Small pods of Pacific white-side dolphins frequently find us as they charge our vessel to surf our wake and bow ride. These wintertime dolphin are always fun to watch as they are very fast swimmers and usually very playful.