Weekly Whale Watching Report ~ May, 8 2023 – May 14, 2023
Magnificent Blue and Mighty Fin Whales Still Feeding Off Our Coast!
A Blue Whale was feeding for two days just outside the Dana Point Harbor early in the week before heading north! Multiple Fin Whales are seen daily on almost every trip. Many of these whales are VERY boat friendly, and our passengers are getting great looks as these whales make close passes to our vessels, often several at a time. Per MarEcoTel, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of a small group of biologists studying Fin Whales, there are an estimated 10,000 Fin Whales off the west coast of North America over 1,200 have been cataloged. Many of these animals call Southern California their home, staying here year-round. These great whales appear to feed on the abundant krill in our local waters.
Captain Steve spotted a northbound gray whale cow/calf pair just in front of the Dana Point Harbor jetty late one afternoon. We watched as they turned in toward Three Arch Bay. They were spy-hopping, rolling, bubble blasting with the adult possibly feeding in the surf line. It was such a wonderful encounter to see this pair “playing” so close to shore in just a few feet of water. There have also been Minke Whale sightings.
Included in the pods of Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, and Common Dolphin were calves which everyone loves to see. There have even been mixed pods of Risso’s and Bottlenose Dolphin feeding together. The usually boat-shy Risso’s Dolphin have even occasionally followed the Bottlenose Dolphin and engaged with our boats. We also saw flying fish and an elephant seal.
Our 6-hour Pelagic Birding Trip led by David Pereksta occurred at the same time as the peak migration, where an estimated 400 million birds will be in the air across the United States. This coincided with a heavy marine layer, leading several smaller birds, like the Wilson’s Warbler, to drown offshore. As these tiny birds drop through the marine layer, they are stranded over water and exhausted. We tried to rescue those near our boat and sent one to a rehabber.