The Fin Whales are the current stars of this spring’s whale watching season! We’ve been regularly seeing these gigantic baleen whales for the past two weeks during our Whale & Dolphin Watching cruises — 44 Fin Whales within 2 weeks! We’ve spotted most of the whales at an offshore area called the 9-Mile Bank, a productive area for sea life watching and sport fishing. The Fin Whales are probably attracted to the area by the huge schools of tiny baitfish, which along with krill, are an important food item for these giants. When we see the whales, they are often circling around and diving, which indicate feeding behavior below the surface. The best part, is that our whale watching crew, naturalists and guests have enjoyed spectacular up-close views of these whales and even a rare sighting of a fin whale fluke!
Fin (or Finback) Whales are found in oceans around the world. While we occasionally see Fin Whales during our cruises off the San Diego coast, they usually are seen in summer and in smaller numbers. Fin Whales are the second largest whale species, after the Blue Whale, attaining an impressive size of up to 80 feet long and 70 tons in weight. From a distance, Fin Whales can be spotted by their 20-foot tall spouts. Up close, they can be positively identified by their prominent dorsal fin, gray coloration with white streaks up the back, and bright white, lower right jaw.
You have a few more days to join us in search of fins and other baleen whales — our current season ends April 21.
Update: In the past week we’ve spotted more than 90 Humpback Whales- more than we’ve ever seen! Our sightings are filled with all types of energetic behaviors including breaching, lob-tailing, pectoral flipper slapping and even lunge feeding on small schooling fishes! We expect the whales to remain off the coast for as long as the huge schools of bait fish. With sightings of the Humpacks as well as Gray Whales, large herds of dolphins and sea lions and thousands of sea birds, it’s the perfect time for a Whale Watching Cruise!
Original Story: Last week, Hornblower’s crew, Naturalists from the SD Nat and guests from all over the world were treated to phenomenal whale watching, starring more than 30 Humpback Whales! A large number of humpbacks have been traveling through Southern California coastal waters over the past couple of weeks, just north of San Diego. The whales are probably following the movements of giant schools of tiny fishes like sardines or anchovies, which are a prime type of humpback prey. A megapod of of thousands of Common Dolphins accompanied the Humpacks. Throughout most of the cruise, the Adventure Hornblower was surrounded by breaching and fluking humpbacks and leaping dolphins. What an incredible day!
More and more often Hornblower is seeing Gray Whales hanging out in San Diego Bay. About a week ago three Gray Whales were spotted within the bay. One of the whales, a juvenile, has been seen off of Ballast Point in San Diego Bay for the past week. This whale has provided thrilling encounters not just for our Whale Watching Cruises, but also our Harbor Tour Cruises and many private event cruises. For many of our guests, this is their first time seeing a baleen whale!
Why do Gray Whales enter San Diego Bay? Historically, large numbers of gray whales entered the bay as a stopover during their migration between Alaska and Baja California, Mexico. Today, the whales may just be taking a break during their long migration and typically leave to continue their travels within a day or so. Whether for a few hours or a week or more, we always enjoy having these cetacean visitors.