The Whalenerd's Podcast
2023 Spring All Day Trip #2 Recap
Day 2: April 22nd 2023
Happy Earth Day!
When we arrived in Moss Landing this morning it was very foggy. While not unusual for Monterey Bay, it does make finding wildlife more challenging. As we left the harbor the conditions were a little more bouncy than the day before - a symptom of winds offshore that hadn't reached us yet.
We headed to the area where we had whales the morning before just a few miles out. We found the rafts of sea lions but not the whales.
As we continued a little further we found more sea lions and had two brief encounters with whales that were working the area. We had a hard time staying with them so we continued on. Not long after we starting a search pattern we stumbled across a pair of humpbacks. They were moving around quite a bit making them tricky to stay with but we managed a couple surfacings.
We then took the opportunity to head further offshore in case we found a break in the fog or more wildlife. We came across several large flock of phalaropes - a sign of productivity, plankton, and krill. Unfortunately we did not find anything else nor a break in the weather. So we turned back in to the bay and came back to the area where we had seen whales earlier. There were more boats around when we got back which helped in keeping track of the whales. We joined a few boats watching two active whales that were tail slapping right next to each other. One of them turned out to be a second generation Monterey Bay whale named Murph.
Murph ended up surface active for over 30 minutes. At some point a pattern of behavior emerged where they would breach twice to the west, swim generally south and then flipper slap to the east. We watched at least 4-5 cycles like that before all the activity was over. Despite the fog we were able to shoot photos and a few videos that came out nicely.
As Murph calmed down it was about that time to head for the harbor. Just as we got up to speed and on course a gray whale popped up! It was a single adult that at first was difficult to track. We almost gave up on looking at it and then realized that it was circling around a tight area, most likely trying to feed. We watched it for a few minutes and then left it alone so it could keep trying to catch a snack. It looked fairly thin which is not unusual for a northbound gray whale, but we didn't want to get in the way of it's feeding or add any unnecessary stress to it.
So with two species for the day and a great encounter with Murph, we headed back to the dock. In the harbor there were loads of sea lions on the docks and swimming around in the channel. More than we had seen the day before or even when we headed out for the morning. Spring brings lots of changes to the bay, the large scale movements of sea lions is one of them. Often there are big pulses of sea lion presence before they head to their breeding areas in June / July.
After the trip there was a beach clean up at Del Monte Beach that we co-hosted with Save Our Shores. Thank you to those that attended! We cleaned 65 lbs of trash from our local shoreline.
Other IDs pending - foggy photos may not be able to be processed