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San Diego Whale Watching Season Starts December 13th

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Whale Watching Report 2015 - 2016

DateMorning CruiseAfternoon CruiseNotes
02/07/201610 Gray Whales5 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback, 20 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Warm day with calm seas. 10 southbound Gray Whales in total. Delighted by 3 whales exhibiting mating behavior very near the boat. Stayed close to this threesome for quite a while giving all passengers a thrill. Also saw other groupings of whales fluking and many blows in the distance

Afternoon Cruise: Amazing afternoon! 5 southbound Gray Whales in courting behavior. Afternoon was capped off with exuberant behavior of Humpback who exhibited continuous breaching and back flops, twists. Amazing day with sunny calm waters. 20 Common Dolphins and 1 Brown Boobie on buoy.
02/06/201611 Gray Whales3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Shortly after leaving the bay, we came upon a group of 3 Adult Gray Whales- one of which breached at least 10 times within a matter of minutes. It also lifted it’s head out of the water a few times. Definitely not something that is seen very often. The whales decided to spoil us… a whale a few miles away on the other side of the boat breached (1-2 times). We then came upon what we thought was a female/calf pair, but the one whale breached- which is not common with females with a calf.
In total, we saw 11 whales and 13 breaches!

Afternoon Cruise: The cruise started out a bit slow, with some passengers seeing a sea lion eating a fish. As we enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather on a calm day, we spotted a couple of whales. It turned out to be 2 juveniles, slowly making their way south. Another whale was sighted later in the cruise. And, before you knew it, it was time to return to port. A couple of passengers came as far away as Canada and Wales.
02/05/20162 Gray Whales, 40 Common Dolphins3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We followed 2 Grays swimming together. We could see them-their entire bodies-swimming just under the surface. Common Dolphins swam along our bow.
Afternoon Cruise: A spectacular February afternoon with cooperative seas and whales! A birder from the UK was very happy with the variety and numbers of birds. 3 Gray Whales zig/zagged and put on quite a show for us. Even saw a pelican aerial ballet in the late sunlight for our trip back in.
02/04/201610 Gray Whales8 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: 5 Grays up close, another 5 in the distance.
Afternoon Cruise: 5 Grays up close, another 3 in distance.
02/03/20163 Gray Whales, 30 False Killer Whales, 50 Common Dolphins7 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We saw a trio of Gray Whales, a pod of 50 Common Dolphins, and we were thrilled to see about 30 False Killer Whales. Was very exciting as these are pretty rare.
Afternoon Cruise: We saw three groups of Gray Whales, a pair to begin with, then a trio and then another pair on the way back up and in.
02/02/20163 Gray Whales, 40 Common Dolphins4 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Seas were a little rough and uncomfortable, some motion sickness. 3 Gray Whales, 40 Common Dolphins
Afternoon Cruise: 4 Gray Whales.
02/01/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/31/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/30/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/29/20168 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White Sided Dolphins, 20 Common Dolphins6 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White Sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: 8 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White Sided Dolphins, 20 Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: 6 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White Sided Dolpins
01/28/20166 Gray Whales, Sea Turtle5 Gray Whales, 20 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: We followed 2 pair of whales. The whales were traveling south, blows and flukes simultaneously. Sightings of 2 single whales. Sighting of a turtle, close to boat before diving.
Afternoon Cruise: Lovely day on the water under calm and sunny conditions. We saw 2 pairs of whales up close and personal. A single adult was visible. Upon our return, we were visited by 30 common dolphins. Many blows were spotted to the north and south. Visitors were from many countries and had a great time.
01/27/20164 Gray Whales, 30 Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 20 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Calm, clear, beautiful day. Followed mating couple with fins/flukes at funny angles. Small group of common dolphins and sea lions were watching. We had visitors from India, Germany, Canada, Mexico and various states as well as San Diego area locals.
Afternoon Cruise: Calm seas with sunny skies for last half of trip. We saw and followed a mating trio for about 20 minutes. Also two other singles Gray Whales with great views of fluking. Some Common Dolphins playing the wake on several occasions during the trip as well as watching the mating trio.
01/26/20166 Gray Whales4 Gray Whales, Pacific White Sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: We saw 6 Gray Whales.

Afternoon Cruise: We saw 4 Gray Whales & Pacific White-Sided Dolphins.
01/25/201611 Gray Whales7 Gray Whales, 3 Pacific White Sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: We started off by finding a group of 2 Gray Whales, then spotted a couple more pairs, then some single whales, and finally a group of 4 whales. We also saw a harbor seal swimming in the open ocean.
Afternoon Cruise: Clear and sunny with a brisk wind. Saw Gray Whales surface to blow only about half a boat-length from us – twice! Followed one Gray zig-zagging southward, right up to the Mexican Border. Then moved northward and encountered more south-bound whales. Also viewed Pacific White-sided Dolphins swimming along our port side for awhile, plus a huge area of rafting cormorants.
01/24/201610 Gray Whales10 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Boy we got our money's worth today! We saw spouts in all directions. Courtship behavior, rolling, pec slapping and sustained mating behavior. Rolling seas.
Afternoon Cruise: The seas were a little rough with many swells, but guests saw 10 Gray Whales total making it an amazing adventure! There were 2 groups of 3 whales, one of which the captain suspected to have a mother, calf and juvenile. There was also a pod of 4 whales showing mating behavior with lots of pec slapping and rolling.
01/23/20166 Gray Whales, Thresher Shark8 Gray Whales, Elephant SealMorning Cruise: We saw 2 groups of three whales that we followed for quite a while. We got to see many flukes as well as one whale that graced with 2 breaches. An unusual sight was a thresher shark that repeatedly "breached" along side us. Lots of kids onboard that seemed to really enjoy the whale sightings.
Afternoon Cruise: We had an enthusiastic group, including guests from England and Lithuania. We had 3 sightings of single Grays that kept low profiles. Then at the end of the cruise we found a pod of 4 Grays that gave a great show, including synchronous blows and lots of flukes. On our way in, we also had a breaching Gray whale! In addition, we had a quick look at an Elephant Seal that popped up his head and then dove.
01/22/20161 Gray Whales, 50 Common Dolphins3 Gray Whales, 9 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Only one Gray Whale sighting but watched zig-zag southbound swim and many deep dives showing tail flukes. Whale also lifted his head up once. Also saw a pod of 50+ Common Dolphins
Afternoon Cruise: We saw three Gray Whales: one single whale doing deep dives showing tail fluke and a pair of whales doing shallow snorkeling dives. Coming back some guests saw 7-9 Common Dolphins. There were a few sea lions on the bait docks as well as a huge great white heron.
01/21/20162 Gray Whales, 50 Pacific White Sided Dolphins6 Gray Whales, 50 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Guests were treated to a beautiful sighting of Gray Whale calf/cow pair, and about 50 Pacific White Sided Dolphins.
Afternoon Cruise: We followed a single (possibly pregnant) Gray Whale for nearly 30 minutes, then saw a pair of Gray Whales, and also a pod of 3 giving a total count of 6. There were also about 50 Common Dolphins.
01/20/20164 Gray Whales, 200 Common & Pacific White Sided Dolphins6 Gray Whales, 200 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Guests were treated to an aircraft carrier leaving for deployment. Then guests were treated to a mix of approximately 200 Common & Pacific White Sided Dolphins, jumping and playing in the waves. Spotted a pod of four Gray Whales with multiple blows and tail flukes.
Afternoon Cruise: Started with a beautiful,sunny day with whales out and about. Spotted one pair of adult Grays and two single Gray adults very close to the boat. Several blows in the distance. Common Dolphins played with the boat, estimate 200 plus.
01/19/20166 Gray Whales, 1 Mola Mola6 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We saw two trios in the morning, both were sort of shy most likely engaged in mating behavior, harder to follow than the normal south bound whales. But we did see one Mola Mola so that was cool.
Afternoon Cruise: Afternoon trip was the same, two pairs of trios involved in mating behavior.
01/18/2016N/A3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Cancelled due to rough seas.

Afternoon Cruise: People from around the world were pleased the weather cooperated. We spent time with three separate slow moving Gray Whales who came up close for all to see the details of their flukes.
01/17/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/16/20168 Gray Whales11 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: The day started off cold but ended up being a fantastic day with calm waters and blue skies. There were many whales to choose from, but Captain Joe picked a pair of Gray Whales that got up close to the boat and put on many double fluke shows.

Afternoon Cruise: Passengers from all over the world were mesmerized by a rare sighting of a pod of 10 (or more) Gray Whales. It was an incredible viewing with multiple blows and tail flukes all at once!!! It was breathtaking. Some passengers also saw a raft of 10+ sea lions, and others got to see a whale breech on the return, which was a nice cherry on top for the day.
01/15/201615 Gray Whales3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Out to buoy SD for mother and calf, then on to a group of 3 which were difficult to follow, other Grays in the area. Then North for a pod of 9 very active Grays with excellent views. Total 15 Grays for the trip.

Afternoon Cruise: Cruise has a light rain & poor visibility, 3 separate single Grays with good views.
01/14/20163 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback2 Gray Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 40+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: We saw a trio of Gray Whales first thing on the morning trip, and then we went out west to find a breaching Humpback. Turned out to be a fantastic whale that breached (jumped!) 8 times and did some tail slapping as well.

Afternoon Cruise: The pm trip was a little slower but we found a mother calf pair and followed them for a bit then went out west looking for more and found the humpback again but couldn’t get good looks at it, finished up with a Finback, and got some good looks at it with about 40+ Common Dolphins.
01/13/20166 Gray Whales12 Gray Whales, 2 Pacific White Sided Dolphins, 25 Common DolphinsMorning cruise: 6 Gray Whales total including a mother and calf. A breach in the distance & lots of flukes.

Afternoon cruise: 12 southbound whales lots of fluking, one up close breach, lots of blows in the distance, perhaps a mother and yearling. 2 Pacific White Sided Dolphins & 25 Common Dolphins.
01/12/20167 Gray Whales6 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Beautiful day offshore with little wind for second half of the cruise. Saw seven whales including a mom &calf pair. Mom appeared to be a juvenile.

Afternoon Cruise: Good sized swells as we left harbor heading south towards the islands. Wonderful conversations with a very international crowd. Very windy. Highlight was several close encounters with four Gray Whales traveling south.
01/11/20162 Gray Whales, Brown Footed Boobies5 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We had a beautiful morning with diminishing swells and an enthusiastic crowd. Captain Jules found us 2 southbound Gray Whales to trail for some wonderful views of blow, snorkeling and flukes. Brown Footed Boobies and sea lions also put on a show.

Afternoon Cruise: Beautiful conditions! Very little wind/swell with only slight sun glare. Had a group of 5 southbound Gray Whales who gave a great show just in front of the bow with lots of blows and flukes, including a synchronized triple fluke and several double flukes.
01/10/20162 Gray Whales4 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Quiet morning and relatively calm seas. 2 Gray Whales followed. Gave us lots of tail flukes.

Afternoon Cruise: Overcast weather, but great views of the whales. Guests were able to see 2 whales traveling together with tail flukes and two other whales traveling solo.
01/09/201615 Gray Whales, 20 Common Dolphin4 Gray Whales, 500 Common DolphinMorning Cruise: First sighting brought a cow/calf pair with the rest of the day just getting better. We spotted a total of three cow/calf pairs and an active group of four totaling 15 whales. Many folks from around the U.S. enjoyed the sunshine.

Afternoon Cruise: After a morning ride with 15 Grays including 3 calves you may think that will be tough to beat..... we came close in the afternoon. With a new set of passengers Captain Chad brought us out and found 4 Grays including one large possibly pregnant female. Next a rainbow and some hot cocoa and a drive out and up toward the weather buoy we were able to get on a nursery pod of 500+ Common Dolphins heading quickly up and out who had no problem surging toward the boat to ride the bow. Let the dolphins go away for awhile and suddenly come back and you realize by the squeaks and squeals the passengers make how much the dolphins add to the trips. The energy and excitement of passengers skyrocket and spreads throughout the boat. Great day on the water!
01/08/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/07/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/06/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/05/2016N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
01/04/20167 Gray Whales7 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We saw seven whales in the morning, a few singles, a pair and a nice trio that was up on the surface rolling around for us.
Afternoon Cruise: The pm trip was more of the same but with much better weather, the sun came out and we saw seven more whales.
01/03/20168 Gray Whales5 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: 8 Total Gray Whales.
Afternoon Cruise: 5 miles off for 5 single Gray Whales. Good show with flat seas
01/02/20167 Gray Whales8 Gray Whales, 1 Common Dolphin, Pelagic Red CrabsMorning cruise: A beautiful, calm, sunny day out on the water. We experienced two sightings of a mother Gray Whale and her calf. In the midst of our two mother & calf sightings we also saw three other adult Gray Whales.

Afternoon cruise: Several Gray Whale sightings with a grand total of 8. Many blows and flukes were seen along with a rare sighting of at least a hundred thousand Pelagic Red Crabs. We also saw one solo Common Dolphin.
01/01/20168 Gray Whales, 2 Bottlenose Dolphins4 Gray Whales, 30 Bottlenose DolphinsMorning Cruise: (8) Gray Whales, Great show, 2 Bottlenose Dolphins
Afternoon Cruise: (4) Gray Whales, lots of tails! 30 Bottlenose Dolphins
12/31/20154 Gray Whales, 20 Common Dolphins12 Gray WhalesMorning cruise: Wonderful calm day. We headed north and found 3 different Gray Whales by the kelp beds then headed out another mile or so and saw several Common Dolphins , then followed another whale south and enjoyed fluking and a beautiful spout.

Afternoon Cruise: What an incredible trip! As we left the bay we saw several spouts in the distance but couldn't follow because they were close to Mexican waters. Then we saw three individual Gray Whale spouts but no tail flukes. Then we watched a group of three Gray Whales circling each other and saw numerous tail flukes. But right as we were about to turn back, there was a group of four adult Gray Whales circling each other, blowing spouts one after another very close to the boat. Fortunately, the boat captain stayed with this group for quite a long while. On the way back, there was another Gray Whale but said we were already late getting back so weren't able to hang out with it. It was an outstanding day, seeing at least 12 adult whales. The captain said there had been a report of a single Humpback Whale so he went to investigate but never found it.
12/30/20156 Gray Whales6 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Six Grays seen. One Gray gave us a great show breaching many times and showing great fluking.

Afternoon Cruise: Large crowd from many different parts of the world. Very clear, sunny day. Many whale blows all around the boat. Six close sightings. One fluke very close to the boat. Finished up with a nice pair of Gray whales that spent a lot of time hanging out on either side of the boat not really moving south, just staying in the area. Nice weather, also we saw more Brown Footed Boobie birds on the channel markers.
12/29/20159 Gray Whales7 Gray Whales, 40 Common DolphinsWonderful sunny day on the ocean. We saw whales off Point Loma and at least 15 throughout the day. There was a group of four that were swimming together and consistently fluking together. We had passengers from around the world and the U.S., Switzerland, Italy, Canada - Denver, Michigan, Vermont Arizona , and Oklahoma. Both AM and PM cruises were full, which made it a very enjoyable cruise for all. We saw a 4 Gray Whales and two pairs and a single in the morning, and couple pairs of whales and a trio in the afternoon, and 40 Common Dolphins on the way in. Nice weather, also we are seeing Brown Footed Boobie birds on the channel markers.
12/28/20153 Gray Whales, 2 Pacific White Sided Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 12 Common DolphinsIn the morning, after a smooth ride south, we spotted an adult Gray and were treated to extended views of snorkeling behavior and flukes before sounding. In the afternoon, a marching band from Medina brought their spirit to the trip! 300 high school voices hurrayed when the first fluke appeared!
12/27/20152 Gray whales, 1 pod of Pacific White-sided dolphins2 adult Gray whales, 1 pregnant female Gray whale, 25 Bottlenosed DolphinsToday was an ideal whale watching day under sunny skies and smooth seas. Two whales were sighted in the morning. One of them treated the guests to an unusual roll over to expose his belly and bringing his fin out of the water. They also saw a pod of Pacific White-sided dolphins. Passengers on the afternoon cruise saw a pod of about 25 Bottlenose dolphins. They then enjoyed lengthy viewing of two adult whales snorkeling and flunking repeatedly. One very large whale may have been a pregnant female. The guests from a over the world, including Scotland, enjoyed a lovely rainbow followed by a spectacular sunset as we returned to the dock. (reported by Sue from SDtheNat.)
12/26/2015N/A12 Grays total for the dayMorning cruise cancelled due to rough seas.

We saw 12 gray whales total, a trio and then a quad, and then another group of three and then two more on the way in. Plenty of whales but rough seas.
12/25/2015N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
12/24/2015N/A3 Gray WhalesMorning cruise cancelled due to rough seas.

200 passengers representing all parts of the U.S, and several international guests. A couple from San Diego has taken the Christmas Eve Whale Watch for the last 5 years - their holiday tradition. 3 adult whales together with active fluking and one single adult. Nice weather with rough seas.We saw 4 Gray Whales total, a trio and then a single, but it was very rough. Capt. Julie Peet reported a chilly cruise with 7' seas and 15 knot winds, cloudy.
12/23/2015N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
12/22/2015N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
12/21/20154 Gray Whales4 Gray WhalesCaptain Nick Kriesel report clear weather and sightings of 4 gray whales per trip.
12/20/20152 single Gray Whale, 2 pods of 2 gray whales2 single gray whalesGood show from the whales those winds were blowing seas up to 7 feet today.
12/19/20151 gray whale, small pod of dolphin1 Gray WhaleClear, calm and warm. Guests were extremely please for views of a single Gray Whale. Good Show, with lots of compliments on narration and whales!
12/18/20155 Gray Whales (1 cow/calf pair), 40 Common Dolphins, 1 breaching adult!7 Gray WhalesThe southbound march of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whales is on in earnest. Morning guests observed a cow/calf pair--the calf only a few days old, still showing it's fetal folds. Additionally, folks got to see a breaching adult, among the five gray whales spotted. Forty common dolphins were observed as well. The afternoon trip was terrific,too….no less than seven gray whales observed, many showing their tail flukes on deep dives. Some of the guests also got to see a few Pacific white-sided dolphins. The photos attached, not great, are from the afternoon trip. One shows a very white patch on a whale--this one I have seen in past years - an excellent means of identification. Additionally, always fun to see a "rainbow" blow. Great conditions on the water today; the passengers were thrilled with the sightings - and for many of them it was a first time to ever see a whale! (reported by theNat Naturalist, Diane Cullins)
12/17/20151 Gray Whale5 Gray Whales, 40 Pacific White Sided Dolphins, 20 Brown BoobiesMorning Cruise: Clear morning with good visibility. Spotted a single adult Gray southbound in the morning. She fluked many times.

Afternoon Cruise: Saw 5 adult Gray Whales right at the border. On the way north, we go into 30-40 Pacific White Sided Dolphins and 20 or so Brown Boobies, feeding and flying. On the way in, we located another Gray Whale.

Fun note: One of the whalers alerted Captain to a family who has been whaling with us for 7 years, always on December 17. They came into the pilothouse for a tour and said today was their best day yet!
12/16/20152 Gray Whales, 50 Common Dolphins, 11 Brown BoobiesWhale Checks Issued*Morning Cruise: The cruise consisted of visitors from Colorado, Wisconsin, and China. The weather was relatively calm with very clear skies. It was a small group of passengers, less than 20. We saw two very cooperative grey whales, a small pod of approximately 50 common dolphins, 1 harbor seal, 11 brown boobies, and 1 sabine gull, but no partridge in a pear tree.

Afternoon Cruise: The skies were beautiful and clear with relatively calm seas. The cruise had visitors from France, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Belgium, and many parts of the USA. Captain Nick gave it his ‘all’, but the whales must still be Christmas shopping. Unfortunately, there were no sightings of dolphins or whales this afternoon. We did see approximately 11 brown boobies, 7 pelicans, and approximately 25 gulls.
12/15/20152 Gray Whales, 50 Common Dolphins4 Gray WhalesIt was a great first day on the water and to start the season. 2 Grays and 50 Common Dolphin in the morning. The afternoon we had another pair with one that is possibly pregnant. All whales in close to kelp and heading through the SD buoy. Great looks throughout the day on what was very smooth medium to large swells. Cold outdoors, so coffee was extra good. Note… on the way in another pair of gray whales were seen in the distance as the sun went down and backlit their giant blows.
12/14/2015N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
12/13/2015N/AN/ACruise cancelled due to rough seas.
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Amazing Whale Watching Sightings Reported On Hornblower Cruises

Bigbluewhaletail

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…