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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

Author

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.