Monday, May 9, 2011

Cetaceans on the High Seas

Last week, my sister came to visit and it is customary for all of my guests to go whale watching with me. We went out last Monday, May 2. We first saw a gray whale mom and calf. Gray whales pass through our area while migrating south (Starting in December) to mate and give birth and then north (Starting in March) to go back to their Alaskan feeding grounds. The moms and calves are the last to make the journey North. After leaving the grays we saw nothing but blue for a while until a small pod of Pacific white sided dolphins started riding the wake and bow of the boat. This is when the photos actually begin. The first photo is of the dolphins just below the surface riding the wake our boat was making.

 The next photo is of two dolphins riding the wake.
And the third (my favorite of the day) is of the dolphin jumping along side the boat.
 

After seeing the dolphins there was a lot more of simply blue, but we were going somewhere fast. Eventually we caught up with a pod of 6 Orcas (one male, one calf and 4 females). This made my day, because when out whale watching my goal is always to see Orcas.

A female orca with the California coastline in the background (near Santa Cruz)

The male in the group

Three females

The male surfacing

Three of the females (the calf surfaced after this photo, but was in between two of the females)
The person who originally saw the pod of Orcas reported that they were feeding on a pinniped they thought possibly a sea lion, but we didn't see any feeding or post feeding behavior.
The last two photos for today are of birds. First, a Black-footed albatross and second, a gull with a flat fish.