By Rebecca Milkey, Southern California Director of Marketing
Successful Sightings and Statistics from Hornblower Captains, Crew and Volunteer Whalers from San Diego Natural History Museum
Percentage of Cruises that Hornblower successfully spotted whales* this summer Season : 99%
173 Blue Whales
9 Blue: Cow and Calf Pairs
29 Humpback Whales and 3 Breaches (photographed*)
12 Fin Whales
7 Minke Whales
20,750 Common Dolphin
47 Risso Dolphins
13 Hammerhead Sharks
5 Mola Mola or Ocean Sunfish
5 Flying Fish
3 Brown Booby, Blue-Footed Booby and 1 Masked Nazca Booby (rare)
*Hornblower guarantees that you see a whale, of any kind on seasonal whale cruises.
*Many more nonphotographed Humpback whale breaches.
Miscellaneous sightings on Whale Watching– Bottlenose Dolphins, Pacific White Sided Dolphins, Marlin, Sea turtle, school of Tuna, Elephant Seal, Cormorants, sea lions, Brown Boobies, sea lions, and seals
The San Diego whale watching scene is robust and exciting and each year it gets more fabulous as whale populations increase and variety of whales species show up. The nuances that have come with our climate change too have affected whale watching success and diversity.
Add up the experience of just four of our whale watching captains for 100 years of professional whale watching experience. Their passion for this cruise experience is exciting to watch. I read their Official Events reports and Customer Service surveys to see how much fun they have out there with our guests from all over the world.
Guests come from all over the world to visit San Diego. Hornblower hosts over 250,000 customers a year on all their cruises with about 65,000 on whale watching each year. Europeans from Italy, England, Germany, Ireland and Spain have been aboard, Canadians. (see whale reports for lists of international visitors)
Our volunteer docents called “whalers” from the San Diego Natural History Museum are dedicated professionals, setting our experience apart from other whale watching companies. Whalers dressed in yellow slickers cruise aboard each of the Hornblower whale watching cruise to interact with all our guests and show off reference materials, maps and even whale baleen to the families and children make the experience more educational and interesting. Some of the whalers have been volunteering on Hornblower for 10 years with the museum. We are lucky to share their wisdom, time and experience.
Hornblower Respects Marine Life:
Hornblower have developed a set of best practices for safe whale watching. We also have similar guidelines for operation near dolphin, and migratory birds. Our Captains are trained to operate properly with all of the different species we encounter, as they all behave differently.
Blue Whales are unique in that they often stay in one spot and sound for lengthy periods, usually coming up in the same area. But since they are not on a steady and predictable course like the Gray Whales, the usual technique is to get in the area and sit still. Often, they are curious, so if they do approach the boat, we make a point to stay out of gear until they are safely away. In all cases, we do not condone harassment of the whales, including chasing them or trying to get too close. We will reinforce this policy with all of our Captains.
Hornblower Cruises just completed a pilot program with NOAA and National Marine Fisheries. They selected our company to help based upon our love and respect for the whales and the data that we could supply them.
Thoughts on the Season From the Captain
Captain Chads passion for whales drove him to write a successful presentation to hce managers which eventually caused SD hce to start watching blue whales. Prior to this the only season we offered cruises was winter gray whale watching.
Captain Chad: My impression is that it seemed as though the whales were a little closer to shore this year. 6 miles vs. 9 miles last year. The quantity of whales was a little higher this year, plus we seem to have seen more humpbacks. There is no way to confirm this, but it also seems like when we go out we see the same whales each day, but like I said there is no way to confirm.
Comparing Blue Whale Watching to Gray whales is hard to do because they are two differnt styles of whale watch. Gray whales are quite literally “migrating” south or north, so we are able to position the boat behind the whale and pretty much match its course and speed to get good views. During Blue Whale Watching, all you can do is position the boat near the spot the whale took its deep dive and hope it pops up next to the boat. Fortunately, it seems like the whales are unaffected by our boat and do pop up fairly closely. Weather is definitely warmer during blues and it seems on average the seas are calm. I like the extra half hour needed to go out and explore and see what else is in the area (Dolphins, sharks, etc)
The Adventure Hornblower is the perfect ship for whale watching. I wouldn’t want to do whales on any other boat.
I love the whalers from the San Diego Natural History Museum. Some of the volunteers really go out of their way to make the experience memorable for the guests. I provide the guest with a lot of info at the very beginning as we are leaving the bay. After I give the info, I go out to the wing station and drive from there. I let everyone know they can ask me anything when I’m out there as well as ask the whalers. It’s interactive and enjoyable for everyone. I’m glad we are Blue Whale watching in summer and it that is successful. I feel like I have a vested interest in this and I really want it to succeed.
Captain Chads passion for whales drove him to present a successful report to Hornblower managers which eventually caused the company to add summer blue whale watching as an annual cruise product.
A note from the blogger: I have lived in San Diego since 1985 and worked in the charter boat industry since 1987, which gives me almost 30 years experience on the water. The last 20 has been with Hornblower whose goal is to create amazing experiences for our guests. I’m proud to say I monitor our customer service surveys and we achieve our goals! There’s a great deal to brag about when it comes to our cruise products and things to do on the waterfront. My favorite thing to do is whale watching. I go whale watching whenever I can yes, even on my personal vacations. I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy whale watching in New Zealand, Puerta Vallarta, Oahu and Maui, Hawaii and San Diego many times. Yep, I’m hooked on whales , dolphins and sea lions! I started a whale blog and Hornblower’s Whale Report about 5 years ago.
For more information about Hornblower Cruises visit http://www.hornblower.com.
For more information about whale watching in San Diego, read the whale watching blog at http://www.sandiegowhalewatching.com
|9/6/15||4 Blue Whales||The last Blue Whale watch of 2015 had a large crowd, many local residents as well as several from abroad. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful and the seas relatively calm. It was a quiet beginning and with the season winding down we didn’t know what to expect, but Captain Bob and Spencer pulled it out of thin air and we ended up with sightings of 4 Blue Whales. Two travelled together relatevly near the boat and then we were graced with a lovely fluke close enough for many to capture on their cameras. Delighting the crowd as they do. What a great way to end the season.|
|9/5/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 600 Common Dolphins||This trip, we saw 1 Blue Whale, a Humpback and several hundred Common Dolphins.|
|9/4/15||1 Blue Whale, 2 Humpbacks||Guests on board Hornblower Adventure got great looks at two juvenile Humpback Whales today, thanks to Captain Jules’ spotting ability. Later in the cruise, we located a Blue Whale, largest mammal ever on earth, and got a couple quick looks. As you can see from the attached photo, a private yacht got way too close, and undoubtedly spooked the whale. Therefore, it did not surface again in the remaining time we had before heading back to San Diego Bay. Conditions on the water were near perfect, as was the visibility. Blue Whale watches on Hornblower are coming to an end way too soon–but it has been a terrific season, and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the Gray Whale season, come December.|
|9/3/15||NA||Cruise canceled due to mechanical issues.|
|9/2/15||Hammerhead, Pacific White Sided Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Common Dolphins, Marlin||Unfortunately, unable to find a whale, but got good looks at a Hammerhead, had two Pacific White Sided Dolphins, a few Bottlenose on the way out, and a pod of several hundred Commons on the way in. Also saw a breaching Marlin, so no whales but not a bad trip.|
|9/1/15||2 Humpback Whales||Had a great day whale watching. We saw two humpbacks just off Ocean beach. A great crowd, very interesting couple fro Nebraska saw their first whales. Scratch another item on the bucket list.|
|8/31/15||500 Common Dolphins, Flying Fish, 2 Hammerheads||Unable to find whales, & neither did other whale watching boats. We did find over 500 Common Dolphin and several flying fish as well as 2 Hammerhead sharks. Overall a good show and people seemed happy but no whales so whale checks were given out.|
|8/30/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 200 Common Dolphins||1/4 mile off Point Loma for 1 Juvenile Humpback, 6 miles out for 1 Blue Whale and 200 Common dolphin, and several flying fish. Great Show, lots of sunshine and a little rough seas 3-4 ft.|
|8/29/15||1 Humpback||It was a beautiful day-sunny, clear, and the seas were fairly calm. We had guests from Kazakhstan, Italy, Virginia, Liverpool, England, Netherlands and many locals including some whalers on a day off. We had to go out west 11 miles to find a whale. It was a young Humpback Whale that just swam along, surfacing every 2 minutes, playing with kelp a couple of times. It showed its blowholes, back and dorsal fin every time. We could see the entire body, including the tail, just under the surface. It was estimated to be about 30 feet long. Everyone got to see the whale, hear the exhale and smell the whale breath. It was a nice time on such a gorgeous day.|
|8/28/15||NA||Cruise canceled due to mechanical issues.|
|8/27/15||Minke Whale, Hammerhead Shark, Flying Fish, Common Dolphins||A 4 hour whale watching trip is a great way to beat the heat! The air was a little cooler and the water a little warmer leading to another Hammerhead Shark sighting along with several flying fish – both things we don’t often see. A large pod of Common Dolphins and a Minke Whale rounded off the morning.|
|8/26/15||1 Humpback Whale, Hammerhead Shark||Visitors from England, Italy, and all over the United States saw an unusual sight – an 8-10′ Hammerhead shark, clearly visible near the nine mile bank. Amazing! Shortly afterwards, the Hornblower encountered a breaching Humpback Whale! If all you saw was the large splash, or were on the wrong side of the boat, the whale repeated his breach for all to see! The sub-adult Humpback was about 20-30′ long. It stayed near the boat, close enough so we could see its white pectoral fins clearly under the water. In fact, we could see the entire whale under the water. What a spectacular day! It took a while before encountering the shark and then the whale, but Captain Jules persevered in the search for whales out in the Pacific and succeeded!|
|8/25/15||1 Humpback Whale, Hammerhead Shark||1 juvenile Humpback Whale, fluked several times. 1 Hammerhead Shark fins out of water, no head. Guests enjoyed the cruise on an overcast, little rainy day. Ciao!|
|8/24/15||2 Humpbacks, Hammerhead Shark, Mega-pod of Common Dolphins||A small but enthusiastic group of whale watchers went looking for Blue Whales this morning. The Blues were nowhere to be found, but we did find a mega-pod of Common Dolphin, a lone Pacific White Sided Dolphin, a Hammerhead Shark and two Humpback Whale who gave several good fluke shots. On the last pass everyone was looking to starboard when we heard the blow close to the bow on the port side, both whales were maybe 15 feet away. WOW!|
|8/23/15||3 Humpbacks, 1 Sea turtle, Tuna School||Quite a unique outing with sighting 3 Humpback Whale, a seal turtle and a large school of Tuna.|
|8/21/15||1 Humpback, Flying fish||Guests, Museum Whalers and Hornblower crew enjoyed watching numerous tail slaps and a couple breaches courtesy of a very young Humpback Whale. Another blow was seen in the distance, but we weren’t able to confirm the species. Some on the bow of Hornblower Adventure also got to watch a flying fish. You never know what you’re going to see off our coast. Good time for a whale watch!!|
|8/20/15||1 Blue Whale, Hammerhead, Elephant Seal||It was an overcast day most of the cruise. Sun decided to show up once we were headed back. Relatively calm seas – finally spotted a Blue Whale almost to 9 mile bank. Was relatively small – maybe a 60 footer. Saw the sea lions and seals on the buoys and even some perching Brown Footed Boobies. Other sights included a Hammerhead shark and an Elephant seal. No dolphins sightings this trip. Had guests from England, Sweden and all over the U.S.|
|8/19/15||3 Humpbacks, 30 Risso’s Dolphins||What a clear, sunny morning for a whale watching journey! Just a couple of miles out onto the ocean we saw the first blows – looked like a Humpback. Approaching slowly, we saw the whale better and determined it was a Humpback! The whale fluked and dove down repeatedly, then stayed so close to the surface we could see its white pectoral fins in the water. Later we encountered two other Humpbacks and then about 30 Risso’s dolphins slowly swimming in unison! Typical of a mature Risso’s dolphin, they were almost white with a dark dorsal fin and swam near the boat quite a while. What an enjoyable day with guests from Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and all over the U.S.|
|8/18/15||1 Blue Whale, 1000 Common Dolphins||Had great looks a a 100’ blue whale nice tail flukes, and also watched up to 1000 Common Dolphin very active and playful with the boat. Stuck with these the whole morning, great show|
|8/17/15||4 Blue Whales||Monday, August 17 was a windy and overcast day. That didn’t stop a group of hopeful guests from coming out to see Blue Whales. There were people from Dubai, New Zealand, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California. Captain Nick headed west and about 7 miles out, we saw the big blows of Blue Whales. We saw a total of four Blues. The last two were a very cooperative duo who swam in a southerly direction for about an hour, coming to the surface about every 7 minutes. While on the surface, we were able to get multiple views of their big backs with the little dorsal fin. One time a whale swam under the Hornblower so we got a great view of the whole body just under the surface when it appeared on the other side! Definitely a great day of Blue Whale watching.|
|8/16/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Fin Whale, 200 Common Dolphins, 17 Risso Dolphins||The day started out going into a thick fog bank as soon as we passed the point. As good as the cool temperature relieved us from the heat on land, we realized this weather is not good for whale watching. While cruising for about 10 minutes more the sky opened up and eureka, we had cool breezes, blue skies and a Fin Whale to greet us, and what was to become of a very exciting and eventful whale watching day. We viewed the Fin Whale for about 15 minutes and hurried over to a huge pod of Common Dolphins feeding on a big bait ball in the water. The dolphins were leaping high and the tumult of a feeding frenzy was so exciting for all to see! Captain Chad had reports of Blue Whale sightings and as we made our way over to them, we were surprised with a visit from a big pod of Risso’s Dolphins, 17 of them! We tracked them for about 30 minutes and the excitement of seeing these large and elusive dolphins only added to our adventure. While we were tracking the Risso’s Dolphins, we intersected with not one Blue Whale, but two! It seemed like there was whale activity in two directions. It was a joy to have so much to experience all at one time. The guests were very excited to see so many offerings of whales native to the San Diego coastline. What turned out to be a foggy morning turned into a quality whale watching experience that will remembered for a long time!|
|8/15/15||5 Blue Whales, 150 Common Dolphins||5 Blue Whales and 150 Dolphins. Great show with several close passes by the whale. Great show, lots of sunshine and seas were a little bumpy.|
|8/14/15||3 Blue Whales, 1 Humpback||Guests were very pleased with this trip, seeing 3 Blue Whales and a Humpback.|
|8/13/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback||One very large Blue Whale that showed us two flukes, 1 Humpback Whale.|
|8/12/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 600 Common Dolphins||Today was a beautiful, sunny and breezy day on the ocean. We had guests from Italy, England, New York, Colorado and locals. Our first encounter was with a young Humpback who breached once, and showed us its tail fluke several times. We headed northwest from there and enjoyed an amazing time with about 600 Common Dolphins. Captain Jules circled the ship around the pod which contained adults and babies. The dolphins played in the bow wave of the ship and many were leaping several body lengths out of the water. We continued north and found a Blue Whale spouting in the distance. We never got real close, as it was moving fast and sadly, it was time to return to the dock. Everyone enjoyed the day.|
|8/11/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 600 Common Dolphins||Exceptionally smooth seas greeted passengers on the Hornblower Adventure this morning. We weren’t long out of the harbor before sighting a young Humpback Whale, foraging in the area. Gray skies cleared as we headed further out to sea, and we were soon entertained by at least 600 Common Dolphins. It wasn’t much longer when a large spout was spotted in the distance….a full-grown blue whale! We got a look at it’s majestic tail flukes on a sounding dive. The whale closed the distance to the vessel, and everyone was able to appreciate the gorgeous blue color as the whale swam nearby. When taking its sounding dive near the vessel, it’s tail flukes weren’t raised so high…..barely out of the water. One guest, from Belgium, was so excited to see this animal, he wanted to stay all day. He was also very interested in the bird life at sea, and was thrilled to see several brown boobies, terns, phalaropes, and shearwaters. Guests, whalers and crew all enjoyed the morning at sea!|
|8/10/15||3 Blue Whales, 1 Humpback, 1 Minke Whale, 800 Common Dolphins||The volunteers from San Diego Natural History museum along with passengers from the UK, Germany, Mexico, the East Coast and LA (!) had the best summer whale watching we have had to date. We started out with a humpback sighting not too far off Point Loma – the whale surfaced 3 or 4 times and each time showed its tail. As we headed out to deeper waters, a Minke Whale which is the smallest of the baleen whales we see off shore, popped up a few times and did its more elusive behavior. As there was a large area of splashing in the distance we headed out and saw scattered dolphins and then came upon around 800 Common Dolphins which put on a really good show – repeated tail slapping, racing along side the boat and many repeated jumps high into the air to the delight of all on board. 30 foot blows were spotted in the distance – a third baleen whale – the Blues who seemed to be somewhat elusive but the patience of the captain, crew and passengers was finally rewarded by the great sight of a close by Blue Whale with at least 3 more in the distance. It is really unusual to see 3 species of baleen whales plus the more common sight of Common Dolphins in one trip – even the volunteers agreed that this was a very special day.|
|8/9/15||3 Blue Whales, 500 Common Dolphins||Saw 3 Blue Whales and 500 Common Dolphins about 10 miles off Point Loma. Great show, lots of sunshine and flat seas.|
|8/8/15||4 Blue Whales, 1 Minke Whale, 1 Humpback Whale, Common Dolphins||The cruise today was wonderful. On our way out of the bay we saw sea lions relaxing on some of the buoys. The ocean was calm and the weather perfect. We saw what we thought was a Minke Whale early in the cruise, followed by a Humpback Whale. We were then lucky enough to see a pod of about 50 Common Dolphins as they were feeding. Several Blue Whales were in the area and we were able to observe them as they surfaced by the boat. Gorgeous flukes as the whales did their dives. Passengers from Kentucky, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere enjoyed the spectacular sightings.|
|8/7/15||1 Blue Whale, Common Dolphins||Spotted 1 Blue Whale 600 yards out, spending some time diving and on surface but was very skittish. Also saw a small pod of Common Dolphins.|
|8/6/15||5 Blue Whales||Great day whale watching, Captain Nick took us north up towards the weather bouy. We started to see multiple blows in the distance as we headed north of the Pacific Beach area. As we slowly approached a mom and calf pair were found. We stayed with the pair through several dive cycles. We then headed a little further west and came upon two more seperate blues. We followed them for about a half hour, when both dived and we lost contact. Ten minutes later we heard a loud rush of air as a big blue surfaced right below and a little right of the Adventure Hornblower. What an exciting and a little frightening sight. Every one jumped up and headed for the right side of the ship to see the big blue that close up. Great trip on a beautiful day!|
|8/5/15||NA||Cruise canceled due to medical emergency.|
|8/4/15||8 Blue Whales, 1 Minke Whale, 600 Common Dolphins||Whale soup of the blue kind was the order of the day! Good sightings of eight Blue Whales, with more blows in the distance. A few passengers even got a brief look at a much smaller Minke Whale. And then there were the dolphins….Common Dolphins, approximately 600 of them. Two of the Blue Whales showed their majestic tail flukes (approximately 25′ wide), and one came very close to the vessel, checking out the whale watchers. A quote from Coleen, a passenger on board today summed it up—-“Today more than satisfied my inner Jacques Cousteau!” I think all on board could second that!!|
|8/3/15||7 Blue Whales, 100 Common Dolphins||On this beautiful sunny summer morning, passengers from all over the USA and some from Germany and the UK enjoyed the very special 7 Blue Whales we saw just 5-6 miles offshore today. Only 1 in 6 or 7 Blues routinely show their tail flukes and to have multiple whales fluking over and over is quite a treat. Close by the Blues, a pod of 100 Common Dolphins swam over to the boat – always enjoyed by all onboard.|
|8/2/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 200 Common Dolphins||Great show, lots of sunshine and flat seas.|
|8/1/15||4 Blue Whales, 3000 Common Dolphins, 3 Hammerhead Sharks||Not only did we get to see 4 Blues today, also had a unique showing from thousands of Dolphins and 3 close-ups from Hammerhead sharks!|
|7/31/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 1 Fin Whale, Common Dolphins, 1 Mola Mola||Blue Moon….Blue Whales…..Blue Skies…not much,,today’s cruise out into the Pacific to search for whales and other marine mammals was a nice steady ride under mostly overcast skies…Captain Rich was at the helm. We had 3 species of baleen whales today….a very young Humpback Whale, who showed us his (or her) tail fluke, a Fin Whale and a Blue Whale, who came fairly close to the boat after the Navy submarine passed by. Also seen today, to the delight of the kids (and adults) on board were the Common Dolphins doing their leaping, tail slapping and generally having fun out in the water. A Bottlenose Dolphin was spotted in the bay, also. We were fortunate enough to have a good look at a Mola-mola (ocean sunfish) that gave people lots of photo ops, as the Hornblower Adventure just sat drifting for a while….Many passengers were visiting our lovely city…especially enjoying our cooler temps were the visitors from Las Vegas, Phoenix and parts of the midwest and east coast (Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland)…also had some visitors from Germany on board.|
|7/30/15||3 Blue Whales, 600 Common Dolphins, 2 Hammerhead Sharks||Passengers on board the Adventure, some from as far away as Germany, enjoyed beautiful conditions on the Pacific Ocean today. Almost always receive the comment, “I didn’t know there were whales off San Diego in the summer time.” Once again, they learned there definitely are baleen whales offshore in the summer, and guests got good views at three Blue Whales, including a cow/calf pair. One boy exclaimed loudly, “Boy, that is a big whale!!” It was great to see a calf traveling with mom; unfortunately it did have a pretty nasty wound–trying to figure if its from a boat prop or another creature at sea. Everyone also got great looks at the always crowd-pleasing Common Dolphins–probably 600 of them. Additionally, we were treated to looks at two Hammerhead sharks. We sure never know what the ocean is going to offer up when we head out to sea. Every day is sure an adventure aboard the Adventure! – Pun intended!|
|7/29/15||1 Blue Whale, 300 Common Dolphins|
|7/28/15||5 Blue Whales, 500 Common Dolphins||Saw 2 pretty shy Blue Whales in the early morning, saw over 500 Common Dolphins jumping and very active. Finished up the trip with some really nice viewing of three more Blue Whales in the afternoon a little further south. These Blue Whales were much better on the surface and we got a nice tail fluke from the largest one. Great morning!|
|7/27/15||4 Blue Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 1000+ Common Dolphins||Our trip on Monday, July 27, started under partly cloudy skies, though the sky got steadily bluer as the morning progressed. As has been the case recently, we were pleasantly surprised to find a juvenile Humpback Whale very close to shore—just a couple of miles out. After we watched this whale for about 30 minutes, Captain Nick headed northward in search of our main target: Blue Whales. We quickly spotted several spouts in the distance and ascertained that there were numerous Blue Whales in fairly close proximity to one another. We were able to observe four of these magnificent creatures for quite some time before heading back to the dock. We also discovered a very large pod of Common Dolphins, estimated by the captain at more than one thousand! Watching these beautiful animals swimming playfully along the bow of the boat is always an amazing experience.|
|7/26/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 1 Fin Whale, 100 Dolphins||Passengers from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Mexico and the East coast were treated to a rare sight today: a Humpback Whale who wanted to show off. He stayed right beside the boat and continuously lifted and slapped his tail on the water. Twice, he raised his tail out of the water, head down, and slapped the water three times in succession. The top of his pectoral fins were pure white so he could easily be seen as he laid just below the surface. Passengers were also treated to a Fin Whale and a Blue Whale, who dove under the bow of the boat, sending chills down everyone’s spine. Two small pods of dolphins totaling around 100 topped off the trip, making it one no one will forget.|
|7/25/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Humpback, 200 Common Dolphins||2 miles off Point Loma for one Humback and one Blue Whale. Watched Humpback for 30 Min then went to watch Blue for 30 min, played with 200+ Common Dolphins, then went back to the Humpback. Great show with several close passes by the humpback whale. Great show, lots of sunshine and flat seas.|
|7/24/15||3 Blue Whales, 200 Common Dolphins||3 Blue Whales sighted. Possible fin whale in distance sighted but unconfirmed due to distance and whale moving away from vessel. Smooth seas – guests from Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Mexico. 300 Common Dolphins – frolicking and feeding – some babies were part of the crowd and guests were excited to see their playfulness.|
|7/23/15||6 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale, 100 Common Dolphin||Hello! We had an incredible day out on the open ocean today! 6 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale and 100 Common Dolphins. Very happy passengers & whalers!|
|7/22/15||2 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 300 Common Dolphins||We followed a mom and baby Blue Whale for quite some time and there were many good looks. We also saw a Fin Whale and 300 Common Dolphins.|
|7/21/15||5 Blue Whales, 300 Common Dolphins||After a slow and cloudy start we spotted and followed 5 Blue Whales, including a mother and a calf. We saw over 300 Common Dolphins in two separate pods. We had guests fron the United Kingdom on board today.|
|7/19/15||5 Blue Whales, 300 Common Dolphins||Beautiful day on the ocean! Calm seas, sunny sky, warm and humid. Saw a total of 8 Blue Whales today, 6 of which appeared to be circling around in the same vicinity. We were surrounded by Blue Whales on all sides of the boat! A couple of times the whales surfaced close to the boat surprising the passengers! On the way back in we saw two more Blue Whales as well as a pod of about 600 + Common Dolphins.|
|7/18/15||3 Blue Whales||Initially saw the whales, however due to the lightning, we had to go out 9 miles to go around the rain squall. Was able to make it back in to the original three whales to watch them before we got hit by the bigger squall. Guests were pleased as the show was still good.|
|7/17/15||8 Blue Whales, Common Dolphins||Lots of out of town visitors on today’s trip led by Captain Nick to find the mysterious Blue Whales…..mysterious because there is just so much we don’t know about them…but, one thing we do know for sure is that they are HERE and are giving passengers some spectacular photo opportunities. Today’s trip took us about 4-6 miles out past Pt. Loma in a northwesterly direction and we were able to find 8 Blue Whales along with some energetic common dolphins and their babies just having a great time bow-riding. Passengers from England, Brazil, Isreal, Arizona, Utah, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, New Jersey, Las Vegas and San Francisco enjoyed calm seas and sunny skies. Lots of children on board today, so of course we did some origami whales…even some adults joined in.|
|7/16/15||7 Blue Whales, 400 Common Dolphins||Beautiful day on the water with limitless views. Steady sightings of Blue Whales at 5-7 miles offshore. We saw 7 Blues up close with a Mom/Calf pair very close to the boat. At end of cruise, we had a very large Blue skim very close to surface for about 10 minutes, ending with a giant tail fluke. Also 400+ Common Dolphins with many babies dancing around the boat to the delight of the passengers. Couldn’t get much better sightings or conditions. Had guests from UK, South Carolina and Texas as well as a honeymooning couple from Switzerland. This couple actually got married in Las Vegas!|
|7/15/15||3 Blue Whales, 200 Cormorants, 200 Common Dolphins||Another super day of whale watching! As we were going out the bay into the ocean, several flocks of 200+ Cormorants crossed in front of the boat. Our first Blue Whale encounter came off the coast near La Jolla. We could hear the whale breathing before we saw it at the surface, then followed it as it snorkeled near the surface. Continuing to search for more whales, the boat encountered over 200 Common Dolphins – jumping, diving and frolicking near the boat. What a sight! Then we saw a second Blue Whale, and a mother – juvenile pair. The mother appeared to be teaching the juvenile how to dive down deep for food. Our last glimpse was of a huge tail fluke! Passengers on board came from as far as Australia, Switzerland, and all across the United States.|
|7/14/15||10 Blue Whales|
|7/13/15||3 Blue Whales, 500 Common Dolphins||It was a beautiful, calm day on the Pacific Ocean with good visibility. About two miles off Point Loma we found our first Blue, shortly afterwards we spotted another one. They were both swimming south. As we followed them along a third Blue appeared. All three were very shy and maintained a wide berth of Adventure. We also found a pod of about 500 Common Dolphin, many of whom came over to play in our bow and stern wake|
|7/12/15||1 Blue Whale, 1200 Common Dolphins||We estimate the number of Common Dolphins that we saw on today’s cruise to be around 1200. There were essentially three pods of dolphins exhibiting primarily feeding behavior. Many dolphins in a row going though waves in unison without a great deal of jumping – head down and feeding. There were exceptions to this of course since dolphins like the wake of the boat and occasionally seem to just want to play and jump which some did. We found one confirmed Blue Whale at roughly five miles off the coast from Ocean Beach. Captain Eric stayed with the whale for a majority of the cruise and due to low waves and clouds above the visibility was excellent to observe the long profile of the animal with the recognizable small dorsal fin and a few exceptional fluke displays before deep dives. A second (not confirmed) Blue Whale was in the distance with blows consistent with Blue Whales but due to distances we cannot definitively confirm the species.|
|7/11/15||3 Blue Whale, 1 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale, 1000 Common Dolphins||Great day. We saw 3 Blue Whales – 2 adults and 1 sub-adult; 1 sub-adult Fin Whale; and 1 Minke Whale was spotted on the way in. The sub-adult Fin Whale circled the boat and came very close. We had very good views of it. The sub-adult Blue was more shy, but still was close enough for good views as well. The adults kept their distance. We also saw about 1000 Common Dolphins throughout the day with many young ones in the group. The day started completely overcast but cleared to bright and sunny by 11:30 a.m. The sea was very calm. A very enjoyable day.|
|7/10/15||4 Blue Whales, 1 Minke Whale, Common Dolphins||Today was a beautiful day on the ocean with calm seas, sunshine and light wind. Many visitors to San Diego for the Comicon Convention who decided to treat themselves to whale watching on the Hornblower. Today’s sightings included a solitary Minke Whale about 4 miles out. Then the boat was surrounded by a megapod of Common Dolphins on our way out to deeper water. We encountered our first Blue Whale about 7 miles out and then a rare treat – a Blue Whale mother and calf pair. These whales stayed in the general vicinity and at one point the single Blue Whale surprised us by surfacing right beside our boat providing an up close and personal experience! We also spotted an additional Blue Whale slightly further north. On the return trip we again encountered a large pod of Common Dolphins. We also saw sea lions frolicking in the ocean and sunning themselves on buoys and the bait dock. A great day was had by all!!|
|7/9/15||2 Blue Whales||We started out with cloudy skies and a bit of wind, 3-4 miles off the coast we finally saw a pair of blows, it was a cow and calf!. We followed them for about an hour and were rewarded with several very close encounters with the Mom and baby. The baby had a distinctive hook to his fin and was very different than the mom’s. We came back into the harbor to beautiful sunshine and visited the bait docks before coming in to the dock.|
|7/8/15||3 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale||Today was a beautiful day for whale watching. There were people from as far away as Denmark on the ship. Partly cloudy sky, moderate swells and 10 mile visibility made for a very nice day for spotting whales. Captain Nick took us out to around 10 miles off shore where we alternated looking at three different Blue Whales in the area. We saw big spouts, backs and dorsal fins several times and one off them gave us some great fluke shots when it dove deeper a couple of times.. As we reluctantly turned back for the harbor, someone spotted a couple of breeches in the distance luckily in the direction of the port. Based on photographs by several photographers on board, it was probably a young Fin Whale. All the guests said they had a wonderful time on the trip.|
|7/7/15||2 Blue Whales, 1 Mola Mola, 400 Common Dolphins||Though overcast, visibility was great today. Guests from as far away as Germany got to see two Blue Whales. The stars of the show, however, were definitely the Common Dolphins. We saw a terrific pod of over 400 extremely active dolphins, including several calves, exhibiting so many dolphin behaviors….they “caught air,” tail-slapped, twisted and turned….really looking like they took their energy drinks plus this morning! In addition to the cetaceans, a Mola Mola was spotted. Definitely a nice morning on the water!! Enclosing a few photos; the whale wasn’t very close; the dolphins, another story!|
|7/6/15||1 Blue Whale, 1 Mola Mola, 300 Common Dolphins||Saw one Blue Whale in the am, a Mola Mola, and 300 Common Dolphins. Nice trip with great looks at the whale and great conditions/weather.|
|7/5/15||2 Blue Whales, 1 Mola Mola, 800 Common Dolphins||A great day to be out on the ocean, including good visibility, calm waters and mostly overcast skies. A small group of enthusiastic passengers had incredible views of 800 Common Dolphin and a 300 pound Mola Mola! Two Blue Whales were seen, one of which came very close to the stern of the boat. Close views of the blowholes and the muscles of the back were highlights. Several other blows were seen in the distance. Once again, a fabulous day with cetaceans off the coast of San Diego!|
|7/4/15||1 Blue Whale, 5 Fin Whales, 500 Common Dolphins||Received a good show from one Blue Whale, 8 miles off of Point Loma. Decided to venture off and found 5 Fin Whales in a pod giving a great show. Also came across 500 Common Dolphins and 15 Pacific White Sided Dolphins.|
|7/3/15||3 Blue Whales, Common Dolphins||People from all over the US came to San Diego for the 3 day weekend and chose Blue Whale watching for their Friday morning. They were not disappointed! We saw a nice pod of Common Dolphins swimming all around the boat which is always very exciting. After traveling a little further north, we saw two Blue Whales. One was a special whale – it showed its fluke each time it went down for a deeper dive. On the way back to the dock the sun broke through and we had a great view of the summer ocean at its best.|
|7/2/15||5 Blue Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins||We had an overcast start to the cruise with a very flat ocean. We encountered 100 + Common Dolphins that played and stayed with us for about 10 minutes to the delight of everyone. We saw several Blue Whales and with lots of blow and fluking. Two came very close to the boat and we saw their full bodies several times before they each fluked and took a deep dive. We counted 5 Blues altogether including a mom and calf pair. There were folks from Japan, England, Arizona, North Dakota, Illinois and France. We came back into the harbor with lots of clear, blue sky!|
|7/1/15||5 Blue Whales||For a day that started out overcast, the whale watching was superb! We encountered the first Blue Whale about 4 miles out, first seeing its blow. Then, the whale fluked before diving under! Following it a while, visitors from the local area, PA, MN, UT, and AZ got many photo ops. Later we encountered 3 or 4 more Blue Whales and even 1 calf. One whale was very near the boat, so we had an excellent view of its dorsal fin, markings, and blow holes. We could appreciate its size and got a good view of its tail fluke! There were some swells, but mostly calm waters. The trip ended with sunny skies – an excellent day on the water.|
|6/30/15||4 Blue Whales, 1 Mola Mola, Bottlenose Dolphins||A single large Blue about 8 miles out. When we got to it, there was a mother and calf, and then another single. Total 3 adults, one calf. Near the end, the calf appeared close under our bow and after crossing, turned to look at us again. When he sounded, I was not sure where he would come up again, so I asked guests to look over the side to make sure the calf was clear. Sure enough, he came up on our bow again. I had been stopped the entire time. Saw 12 Bottlenose Dolphins at buoy 5, and a Mola Mola on the way to the whales.|
|6/29/15||1 Blue Whale, 300 Common Dolphins||An excited group of whale watchers from across the U.S. including Virginia, Ohio, and Arizona set out this morning to find Blue Whales. Captain Nick took to the area where Blues were seen yesterday, and sure enough there was one in the area. This Blue was rather long winded and made several long dives but did surface relatively close the boat so we could hear the blow and see the blow hole. We also saw a pod of about 300 Common Dolphin who came over to swim in our pressure wave. Another beautiful day on the water.|
|6/28/15||2 Blue Whales||Today was a great day to be out – swells about three feet with strong wind so some rocking on the boat. Captain Eric provided us with latitude and longitude for the two whales we saw and that info was recorded. First Blue Whale was a good sighting with blows and dives. The second whale was a fast motivated whale, moving in a northerly direction. Prior to leaving this whale, we got a terrific fluke with the whale in front of the boat – to the delight of the guests on board.|
|6/27/15||2 Blue Whales||Awesome opening day of Blue Whale season! It was a beautiful day on the ocean, the color contrast between the ocean and sky was gorgeous. Perfect San Diego weather. Passengers from Sweden, Denmark,England, Mexico, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas, Arizona and of course California, were delighted with the Blue Whale sightings. We also saw several sea lions lounging on buoys on our way out of the bay. It was amazing seeing the blue color of the whale just under the surface of the water right before it fluked right by the boat!|
We’ve had a very friendly Humpback hanging out with us the last few days! Check out these great photos (courtesy of Hornblower First Officer, Bailey Schrader), and video to come soon.