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Summer Whale Watching Season Starts June 24

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Whale Watching Report 2016

DateMorning CruiseNotes
07/25/2016300+ common dolphins, no baleen whales

While viewing conditions were good today-- the seas were calm and overcast-- the large baleen whales eluded us again today. We did spot a herd of about 300 common dolphins today, which are always fun to watch. Common dolphins are aptly named, since we see them nearly every whale watch trip. They are found in warm temperate to tropical waters in oceans worldwide . This beautiful dolphin has an hourglass pattern on each side that dips to a "V" below the dorsal fin. These active dolphins often socialize in loose herds of 50+ to sometimes several thousand or more individuals.

07/24/2016200+ common dolphins, no baleen whales, lots of terns and cormorants

Today we were treated to warm, sunny, and fairly calm conditions. Bird life was fairly abundant today. Just after leaving San Diego Bay, we noticed 50+ terns (mostly Caspian and royal terns, also some elegant and Forster's terns) flying by, several terns were carrying small fish in their bills. While we spotted 100+ common dolphins outside of the Bay on both the trip out and back, we did not see any baleen whales today. Captain Chad did spot a blow in the distance and tried to get us closer for a look, that whale eluded us.

07/23/2016500+ common dolphins, no baleen whales

Heavy fog rolled in at the beginning of the cruise making visibility low. We did encounter a herd of 500+ common dolphins, which were enjoyed by all, but did not see any large whales today.

07/22/20161 blue whale, 300+ common dolphins

We started with a thick fog bank rolling in all the way out to 9-Mile Bank. The fog lifted to a beautiful, sunny day and we immediately spotted 300 common dolphins giving a great display. Captain Jules also found a blue whale, which all enjoyed watching. The blue whale was close enough to see the entire outline of the whale. We could even see the blue's brilliant turquoise blue color just beneath the deep blue water. Overall, an awesome day for passengers from Israel, China, Scotland and many of the U.S. States to enjoy!

07/18/20161 blue whale, 500+ common dolphins

What a perfect day! Blue skies, sunny, calm seas and lots of marine animal activity. First we watched the ever-present California sea lions resting on the buoys. Out on the ocean, we came across a large group of common dolphins feeding before Captain Jules spotted blows on the horizon. Could it be a blue whale? As the boat went closer, we could verify that, yes, it was a blue whale -- the largest mammal on earth! We remained at a safe distance while watching the blue whale breathe at the surface, dive under, come back up, and show us its flukes! When it was time to return to dock, we passed by two more pods of Common Dolphins who swam close to the boat, jumping, diving, and clearly visible under the clear Pacific waters.

07/17/20161 blue whale, 100+ common dolphins

It was another gorgeous day in San Diego on the Hornblower Whale watching boat. Captain Chad spotted a blue whale about 10 + miles out. Afterwards on our way back we encountered nice mega pod of common Dolphins on a feeding frenzy. Some of the dolphins were leaping into the air and traveling on the surface, a very exciting thing to see!

07/16/20162 blue whales, 50 common dolphins

Today we had plenty of sunshine and flat seas — perfect conditions for the captain to find us two blue whales. Guests also enjoyed an encounter with more than 50 common dolphins.

07/15/2016500+ common dolphins, no baleen whales, tuna, terns

While we didn't find any baleen whales today, guests still had an amazing experience! We spotted five huge balls of tightly packed bait fish with tuna leaping out of the water and feeding on the bait fish. At the same time, 50 to 70 terns dove down to catch the fish. We also saw 500 common dolphins that were riding the wake of the boat! It was a beautiful day on the water!

07/11/2016500+ common dolphins, no baleen whales

Another calm and sunny day! While guests enjoyed watching a herd of more than 500 common dolphins, no baleen whales were spotted today.

07/10/2016200+ common dolphins, 1 blue whale

We continued our trend of an abundance of sunshine and clam seas today. Guests were excited to watch a herd of more than 200 common dolphins and a solitary blue whale!

07/09/20162000+ common dolphins, 50+ Risso's dolphins, 3 humpback whales, 1 minke whale

Lot's of sunshine and flat seas led to a great show of whales today! Guests spotted more than 2,000 common dolphins, more than 50 Risso's dolphins (a less commonly seen species), 3 humpback whales (including an up-close look at one) and a minke whale.

07/08/20163 blue whales, 1 humpback whale, 500+common dolphins, 1 hammerhead shark

We began our sightings with multiple groups of common dolphins about 5 miles out that we watched for a half hour. We estimate that we spotted 1,000 to 5,000 dolphins. Many of the dolphins approached our boat to bow ride and play in the wake. Additionally, many groups of 5 to10 dolphins synchronously swam together. The birdwatchers and other guests on-board were also thrilled with "rafts" of thousands of seabirds bunched up on the surface. A few sea lions were also spotted among the groups of dolphins and birds.

We followed a juvenile humpback whale that breached and showed us its flukes for about a half hour.
Then we headed west to about 11 miles off shore and spotted the blows of three blue whales. One surfaced very close to our boat and swam slowly down the side giving us excellent views of its entire length. We saw a couple blue whales further away as well as some blows much further out.

The final hurrah was the sighting of a stationary hammerhead shark resting very close to the surface with its dorsal fin fully out of the water.

07/04/20161 blue whale, 1000+ common dolphins

What a way to start the Fourth of July - whale watching on the Hornblower! Under clearing, sunny skies the boat made its way out the bay in search of whales and other wildlife. Several pods of common dolphins were encountered before the captain reported sightings of a blue whale north off the coast from Mission Bay. Soon we were watching a big blue whale spouting, diving, and showing its bluish tint at the water's surface. It even showed its flukes on one of its dives! Several more pods of common dolphins swam alongside the boat on our way back to port. We estimate that we saw about 1000 common dolphins all together.

07/03/20161 fin whle, 1 blue whale, 1 humback whale, 400+ common dolphins

The marine layer was present Sunday morning, but that didn't dampen the spirits of over 100 passengers on the Adventure Hornblower. The captain said the visibility was about 22 miles so we could see the Coronados Islands. On the way out to deeper waters, we were accompanied by a lively pod of about 400 common dolphins. They were riding the bow and stern waves and leaping along side the ship. Out near Nine-mile Bank, we saw a small, shy fin whale, and a very large and cooperative blue whale who fluked one time. As we headed back to port, we came across a humpback whale and the common dolphin pod we saw earlier. Everyone had a wonderful time enjoying the amazing marine animals!

07/02/20162 blue whales, 300+ common dolphins,100+ bottlenose dolphins

We searched for whales under ideal conditions with plenty of sunshine and calm seas. We spotted two large adult blue whales and had a very brief glimpse of a very fast minke whale or blue whale calf. Toothed whales were also well-represented today, with sightings of more than 300 common dolphins and more than 100 bottlenose dolphins.

07/01/20161 sei whale, 1 minke whale, 2 pods of common dolphins

We began 4th of July weekend with sightings of two less commonly encountered baleen whale species, a single minke whale and a Sei whale, capped with two pods of common dolphins while leaving and returning to Point Loma. Sei whales, pronounced "say" or "sigh" are the third largest baleen whale, after the blue and fin whales, reaching lengths of 40 to 60 feet (12-18m). They are identified by the single median ridge on top of the head and a falcate (curved-back) dorsal fin that appears at the same time as the blow when the whale surfaces. Minke whales are the second smallest baleen whale, growing to 26 to 33 feet (8-10m). Minkes are strikingly patterned with a dark back. with white streaks, a white belly and a white band across the middle of each flipper, which are called "minke mittens". While a fairly common species in San Diego waters, minkes are often difficult to spot due to their inconspicuous blow.

06/27/20161 Blue Whale, 6 Bottlenose Dolphins

Guests on board the Admiral today were greeted by calm seas and a light marine layer. Not only were the conditions great, but sightings included a distant look at approximately six offshore Bottlenose Dolphins and several looks at a magnificent adult Blue Whale. Though this whale opted not to show its tail flukes when sounding, it did surface fairly close to our vessel just as the sun peeked through…..allowing everyone to see the beautiful turquoise glow for which this animal is named.


Cruise cancelled.

06/25/20161 Blue Whale, 1 Mola Mola, 300 Common Dolphins

Saturday was a great day to be out on the ocean. Lots of Sea Lions in the harbor and in the bait barges. Then nice and cool with cloud cover starting about two miles out. We had a very good crew and Captain Ernesto. We saw a pod of about 300 Common Dolphins about 8 miles straight west. Then a Mola Mola .
Then we saw a Blue Whale at eleven miles. It surfaced three separate times and stayed on the surface for about 6-9 blows each time. And it was only about 100 to 300 feet from our boat. Nice and close enough for very good viewing. To top or "tail" it off, we had three excellent full flukes. This Blue was diving straight down and the 25 foot wide fluke was awesome!!!! Plus the whale seemed to be in slow motion as it gracefully arches it's back for the dive and thus a full fluke at the end that was fully extended!! This whale was in the same approximate location as the one this crew saw Friday. Saw the same pod of dolphins on the way in. Great trip.

06/24/20161 Blue Whale, 400 Common Dolphins, 50 Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins

What a fabulous start to the Summer Whale Watching season! Under calm seas and overcast skies, on our way out to the nine mile bank, we encountered 400 Common Dolphins playfully leaping, jumping, bow riding along side the Hornblower. Then, in the distance we saw a blow or two. It was a Blue Whale, the largest mammal on earth. We stayed nearby, could hear its loud exhales and watched it fluke its tail! On the way back in we went by about 50 Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Seldom do you see so many at one time. Excellent trip on the water!

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