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Weekly Report ~ February 6 – 12, 2023

a seal located in a body of water

Gray Whale, Fin Whales, Minke Whales ~ Bottlenose Dolphin & Common Dolphin

Most Gray Whales continue to be northbound, with one juvenile southbound pair observed, and all have been spotted close to shore.  As many as five fin whales at a time have been feeding off our coast from 1 mile to 7 miles out.  These “Greyhounds of the Sea” are likely feeding on the abundance of anchovy schooling between 200-400 below the surface.  Diving for about 6-8 minutes between surface intervals ~ often circling as they feed, school groups and passengers on regular whale watch trips have seen the second largest animal on the earth.  On average, in the northern hemisphere, fin whales are 60-80 feet long and weigh between 140-170 thousand pounds, with the calves born at about 16 feet long and 4,000 to 6,000 pounds!  The Minke whales displayed the typical Minke behavior, often changing course between surfacing.

Small pods of 20-30 offshore bottlenose dolphins have been seen almost daily.  Late one afternoon, there was a massive feeding frenzy with thousands of animals, including long-beaked common dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, and other sea birds 2.3 miles outside the harbor.  We watched as the dolphin was herding and feeding on anchovies while the pelicans dive-bombed the bait ball to join them in the feast.  As these pelicans would surface, gulls were hovering over them, trying to steal the fish right out of their pouches.  The school of fin bait tried to take shelter under our vessel without much success.  We ended the day with a spectacular dolphin stampede as they headed west to sea 5 miles off Aliso Canyon.

After the recent storms, sea lions continue to take shelter in the Dana Point Harbor and can be seen and heard as they aggregate in large groups on various docks.  One passenger exclaimed, “It looks like a sea lion convention!”

a seal located in a body of water a flock of seagulls standing next to a body of water a dolphin swimming in a body of water a bird flying over a body of water a whale jumping out of the water a man riding a wave on top of a body of water a whale swimming in a body of water a flock of seagulls flying over a body of water