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San Diego Whale Watching Report: Summer 2018

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DateMorning CruiseNotes
09/03/18500+ Common DolphinsWe departed under overcast skies with calm winds and seas. We did not see any baleen whales today, but we did see three separate pods of common dolphin with about 150 members in each pod. The dolphin watching was fantastic! The dolphins were all around the boat and leaping out of the water. Everyone had smiles on their faces after watching the dolphins.
09/02/18100+ Common DolphinsAlthough we didn't see any whales today, we were lucky enough to come across a pod of about 100 Common Dolphins. The pod was feeding and spent a lot of time submerged, but we still got some great views.
09/1/18No whales or dolphins spottedWe left port under a bit of cloudy skies and warm weather. We cruised by the bait docks which had a huge population of birds including comorants, brown pelicans, herons, egrets and various species of sea gulls. As we headed southward the winds picked up a bit and Captain Joe guided us westward at a slower pace. The whales as well as dolphins were very elusive today.
08/31/18No Whales or Dolphins spotted An international group of passengers from Italy, Scandinavia, Canada, Mexico, and all over the U.S. enjoyed the beautiful sunny day on the water. Finding the elusive baleen whales was problematic, but we did examine whale biofacts from the San Diego Natural History Museum - baleen, whale vertebrae, krill, etc.
08/27/18500+ Common DolphinsAnother gorgeous day on the water! Although we didn't see any baleen whales, we encountered a large group of about 500 Common Dolphins that were highly acrobatic and rushing in a stampede.
08/26/181000+ Common DolphinsA beautiful day on the water with calm seas. We spotted about 1,000 Common Dolphins and numerous gulls. Although we didn't see any baleen whales today, guests had a great time!
08/25/18300+ Common Dolphins, 6 Flying Fish, 1 OspreyWe journeyed out of San Diego Bay under slightly hazy conditions. Guests spotted a few sea lions along the way out of the bay. Captain Mike kept the boat headed west until we saw a nursery pod of about 250 Common Dolphins. We noticed that there were about 75 very young calves in the pod. This sub-pod was very unique as it formed an oval shape and traveled together extremely close to each other and swam in sync with the rest of the pod. When the boat slowly came up to the dolphins, the pod seem to enjoy the surf that surrounded the boat. As the boat continued on toward the 15 mile mark, guests spotted about 6 flying fish, which for many was very thrilling, as well as an Osprey flying just above the bow of the ship. Captain Mike headed north in search of other marine life. However, the wind kicked up to 3 foot swells and became apparent to all. We then began the journey back to San Diego Bay. We did come upon what we think was the same nursery pod previously seen with the addition of more Common Dolphins. Even though we did not see Blue Whales, the guests onboard enjoyed the unique experience of seeing the nursery pod of dolphins.
08/24/181 Minke Whale, 100+ Common DolphinsWe had a comfortable day on the water with an enthusiastic group, including a young man on his Make a Wish trip. We quickly found a pod of playful Common Dolphins who joined up with the boat for some bow riding, surfing and a good game of who can jump the highest. Later in the cruise some sharp eyes spotted a Minke Whale off the stern and most of the passengers were able to see the whale surface a time or two before it did what minkes do best...disappear.
08/20/18500+ Common DolphinsWe cruised westward to search for whales under an overcast sky. We first had lively seabird activity until about 5 to 6 miles offshore. We then spotted massive dolphin activity. Captain Rick maneuvered to attract a pod of Common Dolphins to the Adventure, then circled while the dolphins leaped alongside port and starboard, rode the bow wave and surfed the wake.
08/19/18400+ Common Dolphins, 20+ Bottlenose Dolphins, 5 Flying FishIt was a very peaceful day out in the Pacific Ocean just off of Point Loma. Under Captain Ernesto's direction the Hornblower headed southward for 5 miles, then we changed directions to northward and ventured further out to the 15 mile area in which several guests were amazed at the beautiful blueness of the ocean water. We sighted several Flying Fish and discovered a pod of 400 Common Dolphins feeding. Definitely those Common Dolphins thoroughly enjoyed the wave dynamics of the Hornblower. The children that were on board were so thrilled with seeing the dolphins and exclaimed that they too wanted to help our ocean environment and tell schoolmates about how important it is to keep our oceans clean so that all marine animals can sustain life. As we started our journey back, there was a small pod of 20 Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins that captured the hearts of all. Although the whales were elusive the guests still had an awesome time on board the Hornblower!!
08/18/182500+ Common Dolphins, 450+ Bottlenose DolphinsDeparted with calm seas and slightly overcast skies. While we didn't see any whales today, the day was filled with dolphins. The first sighting was a massive pod of about 2000 Common Dolphins that put on a spectacular show all around the boat. Following this, we came across three separate pods of Bottlenose Dolphins with at least 150 members in each pod. The day of dolphin watching was as amazing as it gets!
08/17/18150+ Common Dolphins, 1 Flying FishWe had an enjoyable day on the open ocean today with Captain Mike. We had passengers from China, India, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Canada and a good number of US states represented!
We cruised out to the nine-mile bank. We saw a pod of 150 Common Dolphins. Passengers were quite excited & pleased to have the dolphin encounter. Captain Mike announced he saw a Flying Fish.
08/13/18500+ Common DolphinsOur day was filled with sunny skies, calm seas and playful dolphins! Although we searched far and wide, we didn't spot any baleen whales. We did encounter several large pods of energetic Common Dolphins.
08/12/181000+ Common Dolphins, 50+ Bottlenose DolphinsIt was a beautiful sunny day with relatively flat water. Despite the heat there were some cool breezes. Passengers were delighted to see a large pod of Common Dolphins. Later we saw a playful group of offshore Bottlenose Dolphins that jumped out of the water and did lots of tail slapping. The famous "Patches" with the leucistic (patchy) skin discoloration was mixed in with the group.
08/11/181 Fin Whale, 1200+ Common DolphinsWhat an awesome day! We enjoyed close sightings of a young Fin Whale along with several energetic pods of Common Dolphins.
08/10/18500+ Common DolphinsSuper Day on the water — calm seas and cooling breezes! What a good place to escape the heat on land. First we saw a San Diego based submarine heading out of the harbor, then several pods of Common Dolphins that played and cavorted near the Hornblower. What a sight! Adults and calves too. Unfortunately although we all scanned the horizon for blows, there were no whales to be spotted — just good memories of all the dolphins!
08/06/1830 Bottlenose Dolphins, 50+ Common DolphinsWe had a beautiful day on the water, but alas, the whales were not where we were. We did see 30 Bottlenose Dolphins and 50 Common Dolphins.
08/05/18600+ Common Dolphins, 1 Mola molaA beautiful,flat day on the ocean! Passengers onboard were from The Netherlands, Korea, France, India, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. No blue whales were sighted close by, but we did see 2 to 3 blows from an unidentified whale in the distance. About 600 Common Dolphins played with the Adventure Hornblower. We also sighted a "breaching" Mola mola.
08/04/182,000+ Common Dolphins, 2 Mola molasCaptain Earnesto searched far and wide for baleen whales. We did not see any big whales, but we did spot thousands of playful Common Dolphins and a couple of Mola molas (ocean sunfish).
08/03/181 Blue Whale, 1 Fin Whale, 500+ Common Dolphins, 30 California Sea lionsWhat a lovely day on the water! 344 passengers, some from China, Germany, France, Canada, and all over the U.S. joined us for the cruise. Our first unusual encounter of marine mammals was a raft of about 30 sea lions, hanging out together. Next we encountered some very acrobatic Common Dolphins, then a Blue Whale that fluked several times along with a nearby Fin Whale that surfaced. On the way back, there were more Common Dolphins speedily swimming alongside the bow of the boat. What a fantastic time!
07/30/181 Blue Whale, 10 Risso's Dolphins, 300+ Common Dolphins, 20 Offshore Bottlenose DolphinsIncredible day whaling on the Hornblower! Captain Ernesto headed west out of San Diego Bay to the 15 mile mark. We saw one big Blue Whale who was deep diving for krill, 10 Rizzo Dolphins, 300-400 Common Dolphins and 20 Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins. Among the Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins, we sighted the most famous Dolphin on the West Coast, "Patches!" He is a rare, black and white spotted dolphin. His unique coloration is a result of partial loss of pigmentation that causes Patches to have white, patchy discoloration on his skin. Patches was first sighted in San Diego in 2006. He loves to frolic with other dolphins and most certainly loves to entertain the guests aboard the Hornblower. Patches was last seen 3 years ago in San Diego waters. Patches and his dolphin friends like to travel up our West Coast of California and sometimes visit Central America's Pacific Ocean area. It is always is very special pleasure to see that Patches is alive and thriving in the Pacific Ocean and visiting our San Diego waters!!
07/29/181 Fin Whale, 800+ Common DolphinsWe began our cruise today with warm temperatures, a slight breeze and calm waters. We traveled out 12 miles in search of whales. Along the way, we encountered several pods of 100+ Common Dolphins that rode the waves in front of the boat and surfed the waves in the back much to the delight of our guests! Fascinating to observe an estimate of 800 of these beautiful acrobatic Common Dolphins. We did eventually come across a Fin Whale, which we had a brief encounter with and was close to the boat.
07/28/18100+ Common DolphinsIt was a nice cool day on the water - little overcast but the sun broke through. We headed out to the 9 mile bank looking for whales. Unfortunately, no whales but lots of Common Dolphin. A few pods came over to the boat to play in our bow waves. We had guests from all over the U.S and many parts of the world. It was a fun day!
07/27/181 Blue Whale, 100+ Common DolphinsA calm sunny day today! We spotted a single Blue Whale, but it was heading away from us in Mexican waters so we were unable to watch the whale. We also encountered 100+ Common Dolphins.
07/23/181 fin whale, 150+ Common DolphinsWe departed under clear skies with a light breeze 3 foot seas. We headed out to the west of Pt Loma and came across a Fin whale 8 miles out. The whale was milling in an area between 5 pods of common Dolphin with about 150 dolphin in each pod. We let the boat drift and different pods of the dolphins would swim by and completely surround the boat, This was amazing! We were able to get close views of the whale four separate times with about eight to ten minutes between sightings. One time as we were drifting, the whale swam close by the boat very, very slowly from bow to stern giving everyone a fabulous view. Another amazing day of whale watching.
07/22//186 Blue Whales, 20+ Common DolphinsPeople from all over the world joined us today--Israel, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, as well as many from the midwest, south, and east coast of the United States. We saw six blue whales, including two cow/calf pairs. One of the calves swam directly under out boat, causing our captain to drop the microphone, as it surfaced right next to the vessel. We also saw more blows in the distance. Additionally we saw a small pod of Common Dolphins, and three of the Navy's Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in training in San Diego Bay. Beautiful day on the water.
07/21/185 Blue Whales, 20+ Common DolphinsGreat day on the ocean! Headed out to the 9-mile bank and found 3 adult Blue Whales and a mom and baby Blue Whale for a total of 5 whales. We also saw a small pod of about 20 common dolphin.
07/20/181 Blue Whale, 1 Fin Whale, 1 Minke Whale, 50+ Common DolphinsThe seas were very calm today-perfect for whale watching! We saw three kinds of baleen whales: a Blue Whale, a Fin Whale, and a Minke Whale. We had a couple of distant views of the Fin and Minke whales. The Blue Whale was milling in one area and we were able to watch it for about 40 minutes. As we were watching this whale, a pod of about 50 Common Dolphins came into the area and fed all around the boat. Everyone had an amazing time!
07/16/18100+ Common DolphinsOvercast, but relatively calm sea state and little wind: good spotting conditions. Captain Michael spotted a pod of common dolphins and got them to ride the bow and surf the wake. Drifted to spot a blow along the 9-Mile Bank, then continued north along the escarpment into 4000-foot depth. Spotted another dolphin pod, but never sighted a blow.
07/15/182 Blue WhalesWe were fortunate to see one adult and one juvenile Blue Whale roughly seven miles off the shoreline and ten miles from the tip of Point Loma. Since there were no white caps in the ocean, the blows and profile of these impressive animals were clearly visible. Prior to the viewing and our time observing the Big Blues the sun came out, which made our viewing even better. This kind of clear sighting really demonstrated the huge size of the animals as well as the very small size of the dorsal fin.
07/14/181 Humpback Whale, 100+ Common DolphinsCaptain Chad took us 14 miles out in search of baleen whales. On our way out, we encountered more than 100 Common Dolphins, On our way back in, we saw an elusive, juvenile Humpback Whale. We had a quick look before it reappeared in the distance and gave a couple tail slaps. It seemed like the whale was feeding as it popped up farther away from the boat.
07/13/18200+ Common Dolphins, 1 Mola molaA gorgeous day on the water. We had guests from all around the world including from Russia, Hong Kong and India. Baleen whales eluded us today, but guests enjoyed watching a nice pod of approximately 200 common dolphins and got a good look at a Mola mola.
07/09/184 Blue Whales, 2 Fin Whales, 50+ Common DolphinsToday was a baleen whale extravaganza with a couple species of toothed whales mixed in. We initially sighted a single Blue Whale that fluked in the distance. We then spotted a pair of Blues up close. Everyone enjoyed good views for quite awhile. We also saw a pair of Fin Whales. And then another spout in the distance which we headed for and got a good close up view of a tail fluke. We also spotted about 50 Common Dolphins and a Pilot Whale on return trip.
07/08/181 Gray WhaleOur Harbor Tour became a Whale Watching tour! On the last cruise of the day, everyone was able to see the baby Gray Whale at the point spout three times. A few of the guests requested whale stickers at the end, which we gladly gave them.
07/08/185 Blue Whales, 250+ Common Dolphins, 30+ Bottlenose Dolphins, Mola mola, flying fishGreat day with very close-up views of Blue Whales. We saw 5 Blue Whales total, including a calf/cow pair and a juvenile. Two of the whales came very close to the boat and swam directly in front of the bow delighting passengers with great views of the whales' blowholes, pectoral fins, and even tail flukes. We also saw a pod of 250 common dolphins and about 30 offshore Bottlenose Dolphins. Some lucky passengers even saw a Mola mola and a flying fish.
07/07/185 Blue Whales, 200+ Common DolphinsA hot day on shore made for perfect whale watching conditions. We spotted 5 Blue Whales including a mother-calf pair. At one point the boat was surrounded by whales! Everyone enjoyed fantastic views of the whales. Along with the whales, we spotted a herd of about 200 Common Dolphins.
07/06/189 Blue Whales, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 100+ Common Dolphins, Yellowfin TunaWhat a great day to start our second week of whale watching. Beautiful weather, calm seas and 300 of our closest friends. We had friends form Kansas, Michigan and Germany.
We saw a total of 9 Blue Whales, a small pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, and three large pods of Common Dolphins. We also saw a school of Yellowfin Tuna.
07/02/183 Blue Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins, 1 Mola molaA beautiful sunny day with calm seas! We saw 3 really large Blue Whales. One of the blues, dove down showing its massive tail flukes. It was very exciting! We also spotted a Mola mola/ ocean sunfish and lots of frolicking Common Dolphins.
07/01/186 Blue Whales, 200+ Common DolphinsAnother spectacular whale sighting today mixed in with 200 common dolphins. We were privileged to witness a Cow/Calf pair of Blue Whales. All total we saw 6 Blue Whales. One demonstrated a lunge and another a Blue Whale breach-a very rare sighting!

06/30/185 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 1000+ Common DolphinsAnother great day of whale watching! We saw 5 Blue Whales, 1 Fin Whale, 1000 common Dolphin (.25 miles all around the vessel in any direction). All the whales were very friendly and showed a lot of tale flukes.
06/29/183 Blue Whales, 100+ Common DolphinsWe cleared Pt. Loma and headed SW. 4 miles into the trip we came across a pod of 20 Common Dolphins. Everyone got a quick look but we had to keep pushing offshore in search of whales. We came across another larger pod of dolphins, approx. 50 animals further offshore but spent little time with them in order to keep heading out. 14 miles SW of Pt. Loma we spotted 3 large spouts. We were able to get close to 2 of the 3 animals which were Blue Whales! The whales gave us spectacular viewing, swimming along the surface and one swam completely around the boat. We were able to follow one whale for about a mile watching it swim just beneath the surface of the water. We saw many spouts and the entire length of the whale’s body out of the water. We were out of time so we headed back in where we spotted the last whale which gave us spouts and several views of its back for a second good showing. As we headed in we saw a third pod of dolphins, again about 50 animals which raced to catch up and swim beside the boat. A great first day of our summer whale season!