Feb 22 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Saturday morning’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip participants initially encountered fog with poor visibility, but the captain found a section with overcast visibility leading to sunny skies, as the naturalist and passengers were able to study the geography of the coastline along Pedro Point, Bird Rock, and Devil’s Slide. Whale blows were sighted on three occasions, all within three miles of the harbor before spotting a southbound gray whale near the channel marker buoy. Bird watchers saw common loons, eared grebe, western grebe, surf scoter, more than 65 pelagic cormorants and 200+ gulls.

Participants on Sunday morning’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip had sunny skies with swells of 4-6 feet. Passengers saw the first northbound gray whale migrants of the season. They sighted 6 blows early on, then later several blows and three whales, one showing flukes. Four California sea lions were also spotted lounging on the buoys. Two large bait balls (schools of tightly packed small fish clustered together in a spherical formation for protection) near the shore attracted hundreds of gulls and pelicans, and the pelicans were diving for fish. Other seabird sightings included common loons, western grebes, over 65 pelagic cormorants, 3 surf scooters, over 300 gulls and 200+ common murres.


Feb 15 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Saturday morning’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip participants headed out on clear, calm, sunny day. Within the first 30 minutes, a young gray whale, approximately 35 feet, swam about 150 feet from the boat and took 2-3 breath cycles before breaching. The group also saw a 14-16 foot ocean sunfish (also known as mola mola), and 8 dolphins. Bird watchers saw common loons, western grebe, shearwater species, over 100 brown pelicans and over 25 pelagic cormorants.

Participants on Sunday morning’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip headed north to Pedro Point, then out three miles and south to the harbor. The weather was sunny and beautiful all day with a swell of 2-4 feet,and winds at 5-10 knots. Passengers saw both a gray whale and three humpback whales as well as a California sea lion, a Stellar sea lion, a harbor seal, a long-beaked common dolphin and a harbor porpoise.

Sunday afternoon’s trip headed out to the Pedro Point buoy, then followed a gray whale south for 30 minutes and moved out to see the three humpback whales before heading back to the harbor. Species of birds reported on both morning and afternoon trips included eared grebe, sooty shearwater, brown pelican, double-crested cormorant, surf scoter, Western gull and common murre.


Feb 1 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Participants on Saturday’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip headed west on a sunny, calm day. The exhalation of one whale was seen three times, but no other whales were spotted. Passengers did get looks at over 20 harbor porpoises.

Sunday’s trip headed north to Montara and spotted 7 gray whales. Passengers got good looks at the whale’s backs, blows, and flukes. This encounter lasted for the entire trip as the boat followed this group south to the Ritz Carlton.

A gray whale seen on February 1. © Nan Sincero

Other marine mammals sighted over the weekend included harbor porpoises, California sea lions, and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Pacific loons, Common loons, Eared grebes, Pink-footed shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, Surf scoters, White-winged scoters, Black oystercatchers, Western gulls, and Common murres.

Common murres in flight. © Nan Sincero

A gray whale fluke. © Nan Sincero


 

Jan 18 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Participants on Saturday’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip in the morning headed west 15 miles in moderate seas. Three gray whales were spotted during this trip. Two sightings were only fleeting blows, and the third whale was spotted heading south. The boat paralleled this whale for 15 minutes. Passengers were able to see the whales’ fluke prints in the water and track its progress.A gray whale seen on January 17, 2015. © Pete Winch

Brown pelican seen January 17, 2015. © Pete Winch

The afternoon trip on Saturday also spotted three gray whales. The first was seen heading south and came within 60 feet of the boat, giving passengers got good looks at its back and flukes. This whale also swam on its side occasionally, sticking its pectoral fin out of the water. The second whale was spotted as it was travelling south. It was a smaller animal that came within 50 feet of the boat, also showing its back and flukes. This encounter lasted 10 minutes. The third whale was encountered 15 minutes from the harbor and passengers also got good looks at its back and flukes.

As is the nature of wildlife viewing, Sunday’s trip was unable to find any whales. Other marine mammals sighted over the weekend included harbor porpoises, California sea lions, and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Pacific loons, Common loons, Eared grebes, Western grebes, Black-vented shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, Surf scoters, California gulls, Western gulls, and Common murres. 


 

Jan 11 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Gray whale fluke on Jan 11, 2015. © Sky Webb RoadParticipants on Saturday’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip headed west under sunny skies and calm seas. Approximately five miles west of Half Moon Bay an adult gray whale was spotted traveling south. Passengers were able to observe this whale breaching and the encounter lasted for 45 minutes. A second adult gray whale was observed approximately 9 miles west of Half Moon Bay. Passengers got good looks at its back, blows and flukes.

Participants on Sunday’s trip also enjoyed sunny skies and flat seas. Approximately 6 miles west of Half Moon Bay an adult gray whale was spotted. This whale was possibly female due to its wide girth. The whale came within 100 feet of the boat and passengers were able to see its blows and listen to it exhale. This encounter lasted for an hour and a half.

Other marine mammals sighted over the weekend included harbor porpoises, California sea lions, and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Pacific loons, Common loons, Eared grebes, Western grebes, Northern fulmars, Pink-footed shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, Surf scoters, Black oystercatchers, Herring gulls, Western gulls, and Common murres.


Jan 4 2015 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Participants on Saturday’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip headed southwest under sunny skies, light winds, and small swells. Approximately seven miles west of Half Moon Bay, the boat spotted a pair of gray whales and another individual whale. The boat followed this group and another two gray whales for about 40 minutes. During this time, passengers sighted another 8-10 whales all around the boat for the remainder of the trip. 

Participants on Sunday’s trip also enjoyed sunny skies and flat seas. Passengers were able to spot four gray whales throughout the trip. The first pair was somewhat far off, but passengers were able to get good looks at a second pair. 

Other marine mammals sighted over the weekend included harbor porpoises, California sea lions, and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Eared grebes, Western grebes, Black-vented shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Pelagic cormorants, Surf scoters, Heerman’s gulls, California gulls, Western gulls, and Common murres.


 

Dec 28 2014 (All day)
Half Moon Bay

Our 2014-2015 Half Moon Bay gray whale watching season is off to an exciting start!

Participants on Saturday’s Half Moon Bay gray whale watching trip, the first of the season, headed southwest under beautiful, sunny skies and encountered four gray whales traveling together. The encounter lasted for about an hour. Participants also viewed three harbor porpoises as they returned to Pillar Point.

Participants on Sunday’s trip also enjoyed sunny skies and flat seas. They were able to view two gray whales and 11 harbor porpoises.

Other marine mammals sighted over the weekend included California sea lions and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Pacific loons, common loons, eared grebes, western grebes, black-vented shearwaters, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, pelagic cormorants, surf scoters, Heerman’s gulls, California gulls, herring gulls, western gulls, and common murres.


Nov 9 2014 (All day)
Farallon Islands

Naturalist: Gale Broesder and Susan Sherman
Boat: Salty Lady
Highlights include one humpback whale, 20+ harbor porpoises, a brown booby, and two peregrine falcons

Participants on Saturday and Sunday’s Farallon Islands nature cruises headed out in dense fog that cleared later in the day. On Sunday passengers spotted the blows, back, and dorsal of fin of one humpback whale four miles west of Duxbury Reef. On both days, passengers spotted numerous harbor porpoises and ribbons of migratory loons and scoters. Passengers on Sunday were also able to spot a brown booby on Sugarloaf Rock and two peregrine falcons.

Other marine mammals spotted on both trips included California sea lions, Steller sea lions, northern elephant seals, and harbor seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on both trips included: Red-throated loons, Pacific loons, Common loons, Eared grebes, Western grebes, Pink-footed shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, Pelagic cormorants, Black oystercatchers, Red Phalaropes, Heerman’s gulls, Ring-billed gulls, California gulls, Western gulls, Caspian terns, Elegant terns, and Common murres.


Nov 1 2014 (All day)
Farallon Islands

Naturalist: David Wimpfheimer
Boat: Salty Lady
Highlights include 6 humpback whales, a Blue-footed Booby, and a Brown Booby.

Participants on Saturday’s Farallon Islands nature cruise headed out in moderate winds and moderate seas. Approximately half way to Southeast Farallon Island, the boat encountered six humpback whales. Passenger got good looks at these whales, including two breaches.

This trip had good bird diversity with the sighting of the Northern Gannett, a Blue-footed Booby, and a Brown Booby on Sugar Loaf rock.

Other marine mammals spotted on the trip included California sea lions, Steller sea lions, northern elephant seals, and northern fur seals.

Species of seabirds sighted on this trip included: Common loons, Northern fulmars, Pink-footed shearwaters, Sooty shearwaters, Black-vented shearwaters, Brown pelicans, Double-crested cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, Pelagic cormorants, Red Phalaropes, Pomarine jaegers, Parasitic Jaegers, Heerman’s gulls, California gulls, Western gulls, Elegant terns, Common murres, Cassin’s auklets, and Rhinoceros auklets.


Oct 19 2014 (All day)
Farallon Islands

Naturalist: Izzy Szczepaniak 
Boat: Salty Lady
Highlights include more than 14 humpback whales, 25 harbor porpoises, and a rare green sea turtle.

Participants on Sunday’s Farallon Islands nature cruise started the day in heavy fog which gave way to perfect sunny skies for the rest of the day. During the trip, passengers got good looks at 14 humpback whales slapping their flippers and breaching. Passengers also saw 25 harbor porpoises and were treated to a rare sighting of a green sea turtle.

Other marine mammals spotted on the trip included harbor seals, California sea lions, and northern fur seals. Species of sea birds sighted on this trip included: Western Grebes, Northern Fulmars, Buller’s Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Brandt’s Cormorants, Pelagic Cormorants, Phalarope sp., Heerman’s Gulls, Western Gulls, Elegant Terns, and Common Murres.