Whale Watching Report from Hornblower for March 14–19
From the morning cruise to the afternoon cruise, whale watchers get their fill of gray whales, dolphins, and more
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Another exciting week of whale watching! We continue to see Humpback Whales feeding on large bait balls of small schooling fishes while accompanied by large numbers of dolphins, California sea lions and thousands of diving sea birds. We are also seeing a steady stream of Gray Whales traveling north. We even spotted our first Minke Whale of the season! To date, we’ve spotted 574 Grays during the current season and 136 Humpback Whales. See our updated Sightings Reports at https://sandiegowhalewatching.com/
March 14, 2019
Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 3 Humpback Whales, 1000+ Common Dolphins
We had beautiful spotting conditions with smooth seas and little wind. We spotted a Gray Whale soon out of the harbor just has a large cruise ship was coming in, so we had to move away. We then re-engaged the same gray and followed it westward until it turned southward. We then spotted 3 Humpback Whales to the west along with numerous Common Dolphins.
Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 14 Humpback Whales, 3000+ Common Dolphins, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins
The Hornblower departed the dock and headed out to the open ocean. Upon leaving the bay we encountered a northbound Gray whale, however, Captain Mike decided to steer the Hornblower southward as word of active Humpback Whales were a couple of miles ahead of us. We came upon 3 Humpbacks that were feeding on large bait balls of small schooling fish along with about 3000+ Common Dolphins, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins and a lot of sea lions and sea birds. 2 more Humpbacks joined the group and also enjoyed the food source. A couple of full Humpback whale breaches, plus lunge feeding behaviors and tail slapping were observed by all on board. We saw many spouts all around which indicated that there were more Humpbacks in the waters that surrounded us. We quickly noticed that there were more pods of Humpbacks in the area, so we headed west and encountered several more pairs of Humpbacks (6) that we continued to observe. We noticed in the a lot of spouts and tail slaps about 1/2 mile away that decided to investigate what was happening in that area. As we came closer to the area there were 3 large Humpbacks that were feeding off a large bait ball and in particular we observed the following behaviors, tail lobbing, tail slapping (100+ times), head slapping (20 times), and possible mating behavior occurring. Whalers on board call this day "Whale Soup!" as the whales were everyone!! The guests aboard were in awe of what they witnessed! What an awesome and thrilling day enjoyed by all!
March 15, 2019
Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 2 Humpback Whales, 300+ Common Dolphins
A gorgeous, sunny and calm day. We spotted 2 Humpback Whales and 2 Gray Whales traveling north.
Sightings: 9 Humpback Whales, 1000+ Common Dolphins, 50+ California Sea Lions
A great afternoon! We cruised out 5 miles and found the first group of Common Dolphins, sea birds and sea lions. We then went on to find more whales. We followed Humpback whales, many birds and both Pacific White-sided and Common Dolphins. Passengers on board from China, Russia, Canada and many US states were in awe seeing a total of 9 Humpback whales on this cruise. On calm seas with sunny skies viewing was great as whales and dolphins surrounded the boat.
March 16, 2019
Sightings: 4 Humpback Whales, 300 Common Dolphins, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 10+ Bottlenose Dolphins, 10+ California Sea Lions
A calm and beautiful morning. We saw 4 Humpback Whales feeding along with about 300 Common Dolphins as well as a pack of California Sea Lions. Several tail flukes of the humpback were seen - confirming the identification. Later, Bottlenose Dolphins were spotted, including the famous Patches! Throughout the morning we also spotted migrating Painted Lady Butterflies several miles out on the open ocean.
Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 6 Humpback Whales, 500+ Common Dolphins, 20+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 30+ California Sea Lions
We first spotted Two northbound gray whales about a mile and a half out. We then re-sighted 6 feeding Humpback Whales seen in the same area as the morning cruise along with a large pod of Common Dolphins, with some mixed in Pacific White-sided Dolphins, and hundreds of seabirds on the surface of the water (we believe were auklets and shearwaters, brown pelicans and of course gulls), along with a large pack of sea lions feeding as well. Guests, mostly from the US, but a few from Canada, Europe and Asia joined us onboard today.
March 17, 2019
Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 3 Humpback Whales, 1 Minke Whale, 1000+ Common Dolphins, 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 50+ California Sea Lions
The sea was full of life today! As we were en route to 9-Mile Bank, we spotted a small Minke Whale (our first of the season) along with some scattered seabirds and California sea lions. At one point we could see a large school of bait fish (probably anchovies) sparkling beneath the sea's surface. We then encountered a large herd of Common Dolphins and several came over to ride the bow wake of the Adventure Hornblower. Soon after, we noticed the splash of a Gray Whale that breached twice then was traveling north with a second adult Gray Whale. Captain Chad then took us over to and area by the Mexican border where we spent the rest of the morning with a spectacular show of three Humpback Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, a big pack of sea lions and thousands of diving sea birds feeding on bait fish. The whales and their entourage of sea life passed close by the boat several times as they fed. Along with the marine mammals, bird life was diverse and abundant with sightings of Double-crested and Brandt's Cormorants, Surf Scoters, Brown Pelicans, Western Gulls, Bonaparte's Gulls, thousands of Black-Vented Shearwaters and even a Pomarine Jaegar. Wow, what a spectacular morning!
Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 3 Humpback Whales, 10+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, California Sea Lions
We continued to be lucky enough to see and abundance of wildlife this afternoon. Captain Chad first headed to the area where we spotted the Humpbacks and we enjoyed close looks at the feeding activities of the Humpbacks along with dolphins, sea lions and sea birds. After a while, the whales passed over the Mexican Border, so unable to follow them we headed away to see what else we could find. We then spotted a pair of northbound, adult Gray Whales to cap off our sightings for the day.
March 18, 2019
Sightings: 5 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 100+ Common Dolphins, 20+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins
A gorgeous morning for whale watching. We first spotted a pod of 5 Gray Whales traveling north. The whales were snorkeling and fluking. We then spotted a Humpback Whale that also showed us its flukes. Along with the big whales, we also enjoyed watching both Common and Pacific White-sided Dolphins, along with California Sea Lions and hundreds of sea birds.
Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 4 Humpback Whales, 200+ Common Dolphins, 30+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 4 Bottlenose Dolphins
We headed out in foggy and cool but also calm conditions. We found two Humpbacks pretty quickly that we followed for a bit, then spotted 2 more for most of the afternoon. The Humpbacks fluked often. Once again we also encountered Common and Pacific White-sided Dolphins, sea lions and sea birds.
March 19, 2019
Sightings: 5 Humpback Whales, 200+ Common Dolphins
The morning trip had 5 Humpback Whales, one of which was very close to the boat giving us amazing tail slaps, spouts and flukes. One time this whale came up right next to the boat giving everyone spectacular views. The other 4 whales were a little further away and zigzagging around the boat. These whales gave us shorter glimpses. The entire area had small pods of Common Dolphins which we saw all morning long.
Sightings: 4 Gray Whales
The afternoon trip had 4 Gray Whales, all northbound. The first was a solo which we encountered at the north end of Pt. Loma swimming along the kelp line. This whale was swimming slowly beneath the surface only coming up once in a while. We left this whale for a trio of northbound Gray Whales also along the kelp line. These whales were amazing. They spent almost the entire time swimming along the surface spouting and giving us great tail flukes. We followed them for the rest of the trip ending with a triple tail fluke goodbye. Another amazing day of whale watching!