Over the past few weeks there have been large groups of humpback whales feeding in Half Moon Bay. It now appears that other whales are being drawn to the area as we witnessed 4 species of whale on Saturday, April 22.
Our morning expedition saw a wide range of marine mammals. In addition to 10 foraging humpback whales, we witnessed 2 minke whales, 1 fin whale, and 2 migrating gray whales. The minke and fin whales are less commonly seen in Half Moon Bay and are likely following prey into the area. On this trip, passengers also saw a sea otter, a species that usually stays farther south in the kelp forests of Monterey Bay.
The afternoon whale watch picked up right where the morning one left off and encountered a sizable pod of 10-15 humpback whales dive feeding. Additionally, we saw 3 fin whales that were swimming rapidly back and forth, perhaps feeding on prey closer to the surface.
Special note: Oceanic Society passenger Mary Becker kindly provided us with excellent photos of the fin whales you see here. Remember to bring your camera and we greatly appreciate any pictures you can share that will help us to create sightings reports and identify individual whales using Happywhale.
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.