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Weekly Report ~ September 11, 2023 – September 17, 2023

a bird flying over a body of water

Another week with Rare Sightings of both Bryde’s Whales and Guadelupe Fur Seals, also Minke Whales, A Dolphin Trifecta Week with Risso’s, Bottlenose and Common Dolphin!

Early in the week, just north of the Dana Point Harbor, a Bryde’s whale was spotted by the Dana Wharf Sportfishing vessel Helena close to the area where a megapod of Long-beaked Common Dolphin, hundreds of sea birds and sea lions were all feeding on fin bait.  Baleen whales like the Bryde’s whale have passive hearing so we watched as this whale turned and headed towards the feeding frenzy and even blew as it surfaced in the middle of hundreds of animals feeding on anchovies! Once the feeding stopped and the water calmed, we would clearly see fish scales from the anchovies sparkling and glittering on the water’s surface.

Rare Guadalupe fur seals have been spotted several days off Dana Point. The endangered seal is typically not seen in our coastal waters and as many as four have been seen in one day.  Hunted for their furs, the Guadalupe fur seal was declared extinct after most were killed in the late 1920s.  Thankfully, they were rediscovered in 1954 and the Guadalupe fur seal is now fully protected by Mexican national legislation, the Isla de Guadalupe having been declared a pinniped sanctuary in 1975.  In the United States, they are considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  These seals are easily identified by their distinctive ear flaps and large flippers.  Their flippers are often displayed folded in what is called “the teacup pose” which is a form of thermal regulation!

This week’s Minke Whale sightings have been singles, pairs and often as many as three close to the same area.  Many of these Minkes were sneaky whales not wishing to come close to our boat while we got great looks at others making close passes.

Several small pods Risso’s Dolphin including mixed pods of both Risso’s and Bottlenose were found feeding about 5 miles off our coast.  Risso’s Dolphin are named after Mr. Antoine Risso, a natural history researcher and naturalist. In 1882, he was the first person to describe this dolphin to another French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier who coincidentally named the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale!

Other pods of Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin were often traveling but they certainly enjoyed surfing our stern wake and leaping high out of the water.  Both north and south of the Dana Point Harbor we found massive feeding frenzies with Long-beaked Common Dolphin, sea lions and hundreds of sea birds including dive bombing California Brown Pelicans, Black-vented Shearwaters gliding close to the water and various gulls.  On multiple trips, we came across schools of breaching blue fin tuna feeding on small fin fish!

a bird flying over a body of water a dolphin jumping out of the water a bird swimming in water next to a body of water a whale jumping out of the water an animal swimming in the water a dog swimming in a body of water a bird swimming in water a flock of seagulls standing next to a body of water a flock of seagulls are swimming in a body of water a bird swimming in water a bird flying over a body of water