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San Diego Whale Watching Season Starts December 13th

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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Whale Watching Report 3/20-3/26/14

March 20– March 26, 2014

Date Morning Cruise Afternoon Cruise Notes
3/26/2014 *whalechecks minke whale, 4 gray whales AM: West winds all day, clear visibility with rough seas.* guest received whale checks PM: Amazing trip! minke whale breached 12 times right by the boat for all the guests to see plus 4 full size northbound gray whales.
3/25/2014 3 juvenile gray whales, 80-100 common dolphins 40-60 bottlenose dolphins AM: The Captain took guests out about 4 miles, a little cool and overcast all day our guests saw 3 juvenile gray whales with several breeching 4 times in a row very close to the boat plus 80-100 common dolphins coming to the boat. PM: Guests cruised with the Captain about 9 miles out to see 40-60 bottlenose dolphins riding the bow and wake waves. Awesome sight!
3/24/2014 5 gray whales, 25 bottlenose dolphins 4 gray whales AM: Under cool overcast skies our guests saw 5 gray whales and 25 bottlenose dolphins plus mola mola fish, which is a neat.PM: Afternoon trip included many 1st time whale watchers that mentioned they had a great time while they saw 4 fast moving gray whales with a lot of tail flukes.
3/23/2014 3 gray whales, 6 gray dolphins 2 humpback cow and calf, 20 risso dolphins AM: Trip was well under clear skies plus during some lite chop while guests saw 3 gray dolphins and 6 common dolphins. PM: The Crowd on this trip went wild with excitement when 1 humpback and her calf rubbed against the bow causing water to spray everyone in that area. However, the fun continued with breaches and simultaneous tail slaps, plus that is not all…. when coming back in 20 Rizzo dolphins were spotted.
3/22/2014 2 southbound gray whales 1 fin whale and 1 baby gray whale AM: Under clear skies our guests were able to see 2 southbound gray whales. PM: 1 Fin whale that appeared to be feeding in a big bait ball of krill. Must have been tasty! guests on this cruise saw 1 juvenile gray whale that came close to boat. What a treat!
3/21/2014 1 gray whale, 80 bottlenose dolphins 1 gray whale, 1 fin whale AM: Under clear calm seas our guests saw 1 gray whale and 80 bottlenose dolphins PM: With weather remaining the same, 1 gray whale was spotted, plus 1 fin whale up close!
3/20/2014 4 gray whales, 1 fin whale, 7 bottlenose dolphins, 2 mola mola fish 2 southbound gray whales, 2 juveniles, common dolphins, bottlenose AM: The Captain took our guests about 9 miles out to sea on a beautiful clear day our guests saw 4 gray whales and possible fin whale also with 7 bottlenose dolphins playing at the bow and 2 unique mola mola fish. PM: In the afternoon our Captain went out to about 4 miles with lots of activity delighting guests while they saw 2 southbound gray whales and 2 juvenile gray whales by the buoy. Lots of common dolphins, plus bottlenose dolphins, too.

*If whales are not sighted during your cruise you will receive a “whale check” good for another Hornblower Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure or Harbor Cruise

Gray Whale Visits Hornblower Whale Watching Boat

On 3/21/14 First Officer Grant Boardman caught a nice view of a juvenile gray whale as it approached Adventure Hornblower. The whale approached the crowded whale watching boat, checked out the guests, paused for pictures, and then swam along on its way north off the San Diego Coast. Gray whales are finishing their migration past San Diego in March on their way back to Alaska for summer! Photo by Grant Boardman.

Gray whales have the longest known migration of any mammal. They travel 10,000-12,000 miles round trip every year between their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico and their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas. Thanks to its nearshore migration route, we can observe the gray along its journey. Journey North reports the migration and timing from these Observation Posts and more. Click on this map to follow the whale trail!

To see the Migration Trail Click here!

San Diego Whale Watching Report 3/13 – 3/19/14

March 13 – March 19

Date Morning Cruise Afternoon Cruise Notes
3/19/2014 5 gray whales 3 gray whales, 2 fin whales, 200 common dolphins AM: happy guests saw 5 gray whales among the blue water and clear weather.PM: 3 gray whales, 2 fin whales plus 200 common dolphins that played with us for about 45 minutes. Great day!
3/18/2014 Whale watching cancelled due to rough sea
3/17/2014 4 gray whales. 200 common dolphins 4 gray whales, 200 bottlenose dolphins, 400 common dolphins AM: 2 of the 4 gray whales played off the bow for 30 minutes. We stayed in neutral while the guests were treated to an amazing show, then another plus with 200 common dolphins as well. PM: we had an amazing experience with 4 gray whales that were back floating, thrashing around and mating. One of the best days of the season! Top it off with the 200 bottlenose out deep with the whales and 400 common dolphins in between.
3/16/2014 3 gray whales, 1,000 common dolphins, 1 minke 4 gray whales, 50 common dolphins AM: went out 6 miles with one single minke circling the boat for an hour. Lots of great views! PM: went out 2 miles northwest for the gray whales and 50 common dolphins. Good show for guests and were pleased.
3/15/2014 3 gray whales 1 fin whale AM: went out 12 miles to see the gray whales. Guests were pleased with the good showing and cool clear breeze. PM: went out 9 miles to see the fin whale that came close to the boat a couple of times. Overall, a good show with many compliments on the narration and whales.
3/14/2014 3 northbound gray whales, 1 fin whale, 200 common dolphins 4 northbound gray whales AM and PM: clear and calm skies made both trips great time for guests.
3/13/2014 6 gray whales, 2 fin whales, 50 bottlenose dolphins. 4 gray whales and 150 dolphins AM: guests on this the trip saw the 6 gray whales plus the fin whale and with the bottlenose dolphins, it was spectacular and weather clear and mild.
PM: one of the whales came right up to the boat to blow us a kiss. While we shut the motors down, he came right up to us to see what we were looking at. Our guests had an amazing experience. Fantastic day!!

San Diego Whale Watching Report 3/6 to 3/12/14

March 6 – March 12


Morning Cruise

Afternoon Cruise



4 gray whales, 20 common dolphins

2 gray whales

AM:  We saw 2 northbound gray whales.

PM:  We saw 4 gray whales and 20 common dolphins.

Guests were very happy both cruises!


4 gray whales, 2,000 common dolphins

13 gray whales

AM:  We only had to go out 5 or 6 miles to find two groups of north bound gray whales.  The second pair displayed mating behavior, but became self-conscious at our approach, and swam away.  We then found a mega-pod of common dolphin.

PM:  Found 13 north bound gray whales.  Two pods of 5 and one with 3.  The first pod of 5 gave us a nice show, one breach, one head slap, and a sideways tail fluke and pectoral fin swim by.  It was quite the whale fest this afternoon!


6 gray whales, 200 common dolphin, 2 pacific white sided dolphin, sea lions

4 gray whales, 1 fin back whale, 200 common dolphin

AM:  6 gray whales in all!  3 fins and 3 northbound grays. A solitary bottle nose dolphin was in the bay, and then a few pods of 50 common dolphins were seen on the open water.

PM:  We had a beautiful afternoon on the water, continuing the great sightings made by the AM cruise. We saw a pod of nearly 100 common dolphins on our way offshore where we encountered a fin whale that appeared to be feeding. Our inbound trip was marked by the sighting of 3 gray whales; all doing very shallow dives, spending lots of time at the surface on their trip back north.



2 gray whales, 1 humpback, 600 common dolphin, 1 mola mola, 1 shark

6 gray whales, 200 common dolphin

AM:  We saw 2 gray whales mating along with one humpback.  As well as 3 pods of common dolphin jumping out of the water, going crazy.  It was a great morning!

PM:  6 gray whales headed northbound in one group seen about 12 miles out and many common dolphin.


3 gray whales, 3 finback whales, 2,500 common dolphin

23 gray whales, 1,000 common dolphin

AM:  It was a ‘swell’ day on the water – with sunshine and lake like water.  Passengers came from around the world and across the US and many ‘locals’.  We viewed blows in the distance and one close view of a juvenile gray whale.  A few passengers saw a blow that we thought was a fin whale.  We also witnessed 2 gulls mating…with talons attached; and gracefully falling toward the water.

PM:  The sunshine continued into the afternoon and so did the swells.  However, it did not stop us from seeing the marine life at sea.  A group of 200 common dolphins played with the boat, causing passengers (and naturalists) to scream in delight!  Once we were past the 9 mile bank, we saw a total of 11 gray whales, with many blows in the distance.  One whale spy hopped and we saw multiple flukes.  At times a few of the whales were very interested in the boat; changing course to get a closer view of us.  On the way back to the San Diego bay, we saw another pod of 300 very active Common Dolphins who loved the Adventure.
It was a beautiful day on the Pacific Ocean.


3 gray whales

9 gray whales

AM:  3 northbound gray whales regularly showing their tail flukes on deep dives

PM:  9 gray whales, with one of those whales breaching seven times in the distance!  These 9 gray whales were divided as follows:  Two groups of three whales, one single and two traveling together.  Good day on the water!


7 gray whales

4 gray whales, 12 pacific white sided dolphins, 12 sea lions

AM: 7 gray whales, at least 16 breaches.  We also came across two southbound mating gray whales and a northbound pair breaching.  Fantastic views!  The guests were thrilled

PM:  A blue whale was seen right at SD #1.  We followed the whale for over an hour.  This whale wasn’t a full grown blue whale, but was at least 50 feet long.  There were two pairs of northbound gray whales.  We had some fantastic close views.  Everyone had a wonderful experience.  One of the pairs was mating and it was “special” there were over 50 white sided dolphins “cheering on” the mating whales.  An absolute wonderful day of whale watching.


Today’s Gray Whales Swim Right Up to the Hornblower Boat

San Diego Whale Watching Report for 3/17:

What a glorious day on the water!  The luck of the Irish was with us today for both cruises:  AM:  About 6 miles out, saw one fin whale but it quickly disappeared. The 3 grays heading north – one breached and two cris-crossed the bow of ship several times for close views. Saw about 40 common dolphins coming back into harbor.

PM:  About 7 miles out, saw 4 grays in groups.  Lots of rolling and pectoral fins, indicating mating behavior.  Lots of bottlenose and common dolphins all around the whales.  Three broke off and sped ahead and we stayed and watched the single whale stay on top of water, rolling, spy hopping for about 30 minutes very close to the boat.  Unbelievable sight – one 7 year whaler said she had never seen this previously. About 200 common dolphins and 100 bottlenose dolphins. Report from Kathy Eure, San Diego Natural History Museum Whaler.

From the book, One Thousand Whales in a Year, by Mike Roeder with his partner Scotty Schmidt ride the Hornblower Whale Watching cruise almost daily  ….”They (gray whales) appear as a sparkling, splashing presence that can be seen miles away. Once the boat draws near, they usually approach to play with the boat. Sometimes they are in traveling mode and pay no attention at all. Other times they are feeding and won’t play. But most of the time they swim with the the boat and we really enjoy watching them. From the bow of the Hornblower boat, we look directly downward to see them swimming effortlessly, they are being propelled by water shoved aside by the bow.”  For more
DSC01690 DSC01691 DSC01692 DSC01693 DSC01694 DSC01695 DSC01696 DSC01697 DSC01698 DSC01699Photos by Mike Roeder, Co-Author of the book: 1000 Whales in a Year.