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Farallon Islands Whale Watch Sightings: October 11, 2015

By Nancy Heaton

The fluke of a humpback whales. © Matthew Keller

Although it was a beautiful day at the dock with mixed fog and sunshine on Sunday, October 11, 2015, the marine forecast was uncertain with local winds of 15+ knots and a reported 25 knot winds at South East Farallon Islands (SEFI) and swell of 8-10 ft. The boat departed, circled Alcatraz and saw sea lions lounging at Pier 39. The skipper headed out the Golden Gate, passed Point Bonita, and headed north. Due to the shallow water and big swell, waves were roughly 10-12 feet, however the waves did not break and there was no danger. The boat motored north to Stinson Beach and then turned towards the SEFI. Humpback whales were reported near the weather buoy, and the boat found 3 humpback whales, although only one was active. The captain shut off the engine, and the boat spent about 30-40 minutes watching the active whale breach many times with lob tailing and pec slapping. In addition to the whales, passengers saw 2 thresher sharks, harbor seals and harbor porpoises. Birds sighted included common loon, western grebe, sooty shearwater, black-vented shearwater, brown pelican, double-crested cormorant, Heerman's gull, western gull, elegant tern and common murre.

Reports showed weather at the Farallon Islands continued to deteriorate, and the skipper decided to head home after half a day on the boat.

There was no trip on Saturday, October 10.

Author

Nancy Heaton is Oceanic Society's former Local Programs Coordinator based in Ross, CA, USA.