Weekly Report ~ February 6 – 12, 2023
Love is in the Air! Multiple Encounters with Gray Whales Courting, Plus Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Pacific White-Sided Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, and several Mola mola!
An exceptional experience was watching three gray whales courting, likely mating, with lots of surface activity, including rolling and socializing showing their pectoral fins and flukes. This spectacular show included a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins interacting with the gray whales. Gray whales are migrating south to the warm waters of Baja to calve and mate. Occasionally, we are fortunate to witness this remarkable activity from our vessels just off our coast. Many of our southbound gray whale sightings are often pairs or trios heading south, including cow/calf pairs, and stay in tight groups. Most of the single gray whales heading south appear to be keeping a low profile, sometimes blowing once and then diving for a long period. Some whales will mill for a short time before continuing south. The cow/calf pairs are usually close to shore and often stealthy, but we did have a juvenile gray whale breach several times off Turtle Rock. We also say many spy hops and some head lifts, which may be a way for these whales to communicate and navigate.
Single-fin whales are found near the shore north of the Dana Point Headlands, likely feeding. Minke whales were watched briefly as they are difficult to track, which is why they are nicknamed “Sneaky Minkes.”
Pods with hundreds of long-beaked common dolphins, including nursery pods and two dolphin stampedes, and coastal and offshore bottlenose dolphins were watched. Our favorite wintertime dolphin, the energetic Pacific white-sided dolphin, was also encountered on multiple trips.