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Gulf of the Farallones Whale Watch Sightings: July 8, 2016

By Chris Biertuempfel

On Friday, July 8, we embarked on a shorter, 4-hour adventure into the Gulf of the Farallones to take advantage of the unusually high number of whales currently in the area. We’re happy to report that the whales are still there.

Lunge feeding was on display early, and often, as we saw 8 humpbacks feeding in the first 60 minutes of the trip. Shoals of anchovies were circling around the entrance to the bay and the whales were right there, often with impressive views of San Francisco in the background.

Photographers aboard this trip were delighted by the unusually predictable surfacing behavior, and several ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ shots were captured by passengers on board. In the following photo you can see anchovies spilling out past this humpback’s extended ventral pleats, its mouth full of seawater and fish soon to be filtered by its baleen.

After observing the feeding frenzy of the humpback whales, we cruised up the coastline and spotted a number of harbor seals hauled out of the water near Point Bonita. Continuing northwest, we spotted more humpbacks along the way, stopping to witness their travels and feeding.

Throughout the rest of the trip, our naturalist concluded we saw 16 more humpback whales, making 25 on the day. Other sightings included:

  • California sea lions
  • Harbor seals
  • Harbor porpoises
  • Brown Pelicans
  • Brandt’s Cormorants
  • Black Oystercatchers
  • Heerman’s Gulls
  • And Common Murres

Chris Biertuempfel manages Oceanic Society’s California-based programs, continuing the non-profit’s tradition of ocean faring expeditions that began in 1972. Also, he leads whale-centric expeditions in California and Mexico as a naturalist. His work as a photographer from such trips has been featured in several media outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle and ABC News.


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