Sightings Every Day

San Diego Whale Watching Season Starts December 13th

Purchase Tickets

Monthly Archives: April 2014

San Diego Whale Watching 2014 Season

Hornblower Cruises & Events San Diego Whale Watching   Button-Tickets-150x150px

Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures

April 18-24

Date Morning Cruise Afternoon Cruise Notes
4/24/14 2 gray whales, common dolphins *whalechecks During a beautiful day guests enjoyed the trip with 2 gray whale sightings and many common and bottle-nose dolphins.
4/23/14 60 common dolphins, mylar mylar, 2 gray whales No afternoon cruise Throughout the day several pods of common dolphins and several bottlenose in the bay. Guest saw bottlenose dolphins in the bay and mother and calf near the end of trip.
4/22/14 4 gray whales, 300 common dolphins No afternoon cruise Guest were treated to 2 pair of mom and calf gray whales plus 500 bottlenose dolphins
4/21/14 2 minke, 50 common dolphins No afternoon cruise Good views in clear cool skies guests saw 2 minke plus 50 common dolphins.
4/20/14 3 gray whales, 3 bottlenose 5 gray whales, 6 bottlenose All went well and guest were happy…..found a large mola-mola out there…on the way back in to the dock we came across some common dolphins who were with a cow/calf pair near the kelp beds. Some whales zig-zagged through the kelp we managed to give the passengers some good views. Seeing the small fluke prints of the calf was awesome! Another cow/calf pair came into view on our way back into the bay….we also had some bottlenose dolphin in the bay.
4/19/14 4 gray whales 2 minke whales It was a great day on the ocean with a gray whale mom and her calf spotted. We had common dolphins feeding along the kelp. In the afternoon we had many fun and exciting passengers on board. 2 minke whales were swimming under and around out boat.
4/18/14 4 gray whales, 300 common dolphins No afternoon cruise Gray whale and her calf heading up north were spotted just outside the bay in shallow water. Many common dolphins jumping clear out of the water plus 2 bottlenose in the bay

San Diego Whale Watching 2014 Season


April 11- April 17

Date Morning Cruise Afternoon Cruise Notes
4/17/14 2 gray whales, 200 common dolphins No afternoon cruise Mom and Calf provided guests with a great view plus 200 common dolphins
4/16/14 2 gray whales, 300 common dolphins No afternoon cruise Guests were treated to Amazing morning cruise found a pod of 300 common dolphins and found a mother and calve fin whale that put on the best show.
4/14/14 2 fin whales, 500 common dolphins 2 gray whales Guest saw two fin whales and a pod of 500 common dolphins plus two grey whales (cow/calf) they put on a great show for the guests. A Humpback whale was seen a the entrance to the harbor.
4/13/14 *whalechecks 1 humpback, 200 common dolphins In calm seas during the day guests saw one humpback whale and 200 common dolphins.
4/12/14 2 fin whales,500 common dolphins 2 gray whales Guests saw 2 fin whales and a pod of 500 common dolphins, plus a mom and calf.
4/11/14 1 humpback whale, 50 bottlenose dolphins. 50 bottlenose dolphins Guests saw 100 common dolphins and a humpback whale feeding on an abundant supply of fish. On the way out 2 mola-mola fish were spotted as well as 25 bottlenose dolphin.

Visit our Whale Report and Blog:

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


Humpback Whales being seen on San Diego Whale Watching Cruises on Hornblower





Photos by Ken Shelby, captured these great images of a breaching Humpback Whale just off Mission Bay from the rails of Hornblower on their recent whale watching cruise. Mr Shelby is a frequent cruiser aboard Hornblower Cruises Whale Watching Cruise because he is one of the trained Naturalist from San Diego Natural History Museum. Ken said that this whale breached about

This time of year, Hornblower Cruises sees a variety of whales on their whale watching cruises. In addition to Gray whales, humpback whales, Minke whales, fin back whales and Blue Whales are seen. The Gray Whale watching season ends on April 27th as the last of the migrating mammals travel by the San Diego coast.

Blue Whale watching season will begin on July 5th on Hornblower Cruises. Click to buy a season pass or just a one day admission for this exciting new  cruise being offered by Hornblower Cruises!



San Diego Whale Watching Report for 4/3 – present


Whale Watching Report for April 3- April 10

Date Morning Cruise Afternoon Cruise Notes
4/10/2014 2 fin whales, 200 common dolphins *whalechecks During a cool and overcast morning the Captain cruised our about 9 miles viewing 2 fin whales and common dolphins.
4/09/2014 4 fin whales, 1 mom & calf gray whale, 200 common dolphins 2 gray whales, and 1 juvenile gray whale Great views all day with a mom and calf gray whale and about 200 common dolphins. Guests said they have lots of fun. The whale sightings were up close and personal with 2 juvenile and 2 adult gray whales.
04/08/2014 1 minke whales, 60 bottlenose dolphins, mother and calf gray whale 2 gray whales, 40-60 bottlenose dolphins The Captain took out our guest to the 9 mile bank for a peek at the elusive minke whale, and then a mother gray whale and her calf were seen at the kelp beds. Two juvenile gray whales then northwest 2 more gray whales were spotted plus bottlenose dolphins.
4/07/2014 1 minke, 30 bottlenose dolphins 2 gray whales, 200 dolphins The trip was extra special due to guests were able to see “Patches” the spotted dolphin that has been seen along the coast. Guests were thrilled and had wonderful views. Two gray whales came out to play, plus 2000 common dolphins.
4/06/2014 500 common dolphins 200 common dolphins The dolphins were the star of the show for the day with a total of 500 common dolphins. Guests gave many compliments on the narration.*whalechecks
04/05/2014 3 gray whales,800-100 common dolphins 40 bottlenose dolphins, 2500 common dolphins. Guests witnessed mating, rolling and breaching of 3 gray whales, plus many dolphins during clear weather. 2500 common dolphins came out and gave a great show with about 40 bottlenose dolphins in the mix.
04/04/2014 500 common dolphins 1 fin whale The total on the trips for the day included a Gray whale mom and her calf plus one fin whale and about 500 common dolphins


Reoccuring Sightings of Semi-famous Mottled Dolphin Named “Patches” from Adventure Hornblower (see Patches captured by video on!

SD Natural History Museum Whalers and whale watching regulars like Mike Roerder (author of 1000 Whales in a Year) are out on cruises enough to spot reoccurring animals.  The “regulars” have spotted and photographed a mottled bottle nose dolphin and named him patches for obvious reasons! Diane Cullins wrote: “Went out on the Hornblower Adventure this morning…was so happy to see ‘Patches,’ the piebald bottlenose dolphin again…definitely one of a kind! Offshore bottlenose dolphins  are always a treat to see, as was the Minke whale, the smallest of the baleen whales we see off San Diego.”  

I asked Mike Roeder about Patches because he has been on board Hornblower hundreds of times in doing research for his book One Thousand Whales in a Year.  He said Patches’ “piebald” looks makes her a bit of a dolphin celebrity! He pulled this from wikipedia:
piebald animal is one that has a spotting pattern of large unpigmented, usually white, areas of hair, feathers, or scales and normally pigmented patches, generally black. The colour of the animal’s skin underneath its coat is also pigmented under the dark patches and unpigmented under the white patches. This alternating colour pattern is irregular and asymmetrical. Animals reported with this pattern may include horsesdogsbirdscatspigs, and cattle, as well as snakes such as the ball python. Some animals also exhibit colouration of the irises of the eye that match the surrounding skin (blue eyes for pink skin, brown for dark). The underlying genetic cause is related to a condition known as leucism.
Leucism is a general term for defects in pigment cell differentiation and/or migration from the neural crest to skin, hair, or feathers during development. This results in patches of body surface (if only a subset are defective) lacking cells capable of making pigmentLeucism can cause a reduction in all types of pigment, in contrast to albinism, for which leucism is often mistaken. Albinism results in the reduction of melanin production only.  More common than a complete absence of pigment cells is localized or incomplete hypopigmentation, resulting in irregular patches of white on an animal that otherwise has normal colouring and patterning. This partial leucism is known as a “pied” or “piebald” effect; and the ratio of white to normal-coloured skin can vary considerably not only between generations, but between different offspring from the same parents, and even between members of the same litter. A further difference between albinism and leucism is in eye colour. Due to the lack of melanin production in both the retina and iris, albinos typically have red eyes. In contrast, most leucistic animals have normally coloured eyes. The cells in the eyes have an independent genetic origin, and they are typically unaffected by the genetic cause of leucism.
But I digress…As a consequence of her insecurity, Patches roams up and down the West Coast. Since “coming of age about 4-5 years ago, she has been seen in the company of both bottlenose AND (heaven forbid) common dolphin pods from San Diego to Santa Barbara. So she is thought to be a good communicator with all kinds of animals … and (like J.Lo) she loves to show off her backside.
According to the authoritative One Thousand Whales in a Year, Patches was first seen in 2013 off La Jolla on Aug 17th, 2013, then again on the 19th (page 60). She was with common dolphins.
At that time it was speculated that there were several like her and they had been seen around the West Coast. Or that her mother was “common” and her father “bottlenose”. Those are unfounded rumors. Since then, Diane Cullins (whaler) has forwarded photos of patches to an expert marine biologist friend who said that she is a unique specimen and all sighting are of her. 
Until the trip when the previously-shared photos were taken, Captain Bill from Hornblower Cruises & Events, San Diego, had only heard of her, but never seen her. Now he knows what we were always going on about.We next saw Patches on Oct 16th and 17th in a group of 100 bottlenose dolphins. She reappeared Oct 27th, Nov 3rd and Nov 9th with a similar sized group of bottlenose. Perhaps also in January 2014, but my records are incomplete…
Since she has apparently become a star, she’s become a bit elusive, but this week the paparazzi spotted her out cruising with her pals:
Mike Roeder, One Thousand Whales in a Year Author.

Patches by Diane Cullins DSC02555