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Half Moon Bay Gray Whale Watch Sightings: May 7, 2016

By Chris Biertuempfel

California sea lions waving as we start our trip. © Chris Biertuempfel

Even before Saturday’s whale watching trip left the harbor in Half Moon Bay, two California sea lions were happily splashing around near the boat and one raised a big flipper out of the water, waving as our trip began. We would experience another marine mammal ‘wave’ at the end of our excursion.

A gray whale with a distinctive white spot. © Chris Biertuempfel

Heading south from the harbor, we quickly spotted a cow-calf pair of gray whales traveling close to shore. The mother had a very distinctive white spot on her flank, making photo identification among naturalists much easier. The whales steadily moved up the coastline and in a short time we spotted another whale between our boat and the horizon and we began observing the new whale.

During the middle portion of our trip, we observed 3 more gray whales, individually moving north along their northward migratory route. We were then called away by a report of a gray whale breaching about a mile from us.

A gray whale's fluke. © Chris Biertuempfel

We located the whale, but its breaching behavior had ended and we watched it move north. Not to disappoint avid fans, a gray whale dove and raised its massive fluke as a fitting finale to this exciting trip.

Bird watchers onboard also had an eventful morning, spotting:

A Common Loon. © Chris Biertuempfel


Chris Biertuempfel is Oceanic Society’s California programs coordinator for the San Francisco Bay Area. He also serves as photographer and documentarian on our whale watching trips. Chris holds a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and is based in our office in Ross, CA.


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