Whale Watching at the Farallons

Went for a second try at an Oceanic Society whale watching trip to the Farallons and had pretty much the best whale watching experience of my life to date. Whales. Lots and lots of whales, doing crazy things.

This was my second attempt to go whale watching with the Oceanic Society, the first being thwarted by high seas. The first also ended unhappily because no one from the Society showed up at the launch site to let us know about the cancellation. There was a number we were supposed to call to check the status, but my crew and about 8 other people didn't notice this little addendum to our receipts. I was very sour.

This time the ocean was flat, we called the number, and everything was good to go. Launched from Sausalito, picked up the rest in SF, then headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge. Harbor porpoise and tons of grebes around the Gate, and we started seeing murres just outside.

The humpbacks were very active around the islands. The first group we found were breaching like no one's business, and the last swam right up to the boat and played with us for about an hour. Pretty amazing stuff.

Saw some new-for-me sea birds too. The shearwaters were especially hard to pick out from a distance. They look a lot like gulls, and IDing them was sort of a process of elimination based on range, amount of whiteness on the underside, and beak color.

Posted by kueda kueda, October 12, 2009 05:57 AM

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 11, 2009 10:25 AM PDT

Description

Inspired by Sonja and Valerio's plan to go whale watching last weekend, I decided to make up for this summer's fiasco by trying again, and I persuaded Sarah to join in my folly. The resulting adventure consisted of far less folly than expected. Breaching whales? Check. Playful boat-loving whales? Check. Learning more about whale anatomy than expected or necessary? Check and check.

Photos / Sounds

What

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 11, 2009 01:10 PM PDT

Description

Whales! Big hearted on so many levels! Well, two. The physical and the metaphoric, you see. I need to stop using that joke. Allow me to distract you by drawing your attention to those awful barnacles! Inside that stead, rock-like exterior they hide all manner of of revoltingness!

Photos / Sounds

What

Rabbit-ear Barnacle (Conchoderma auritum)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 11, 2009 01:10 PM PDT

Description

This a close-up of the chin of a humpback whale. Conchoderma auritum are the elongate creatures that don't look like barnacles (but are). They actually grow on the other barnacle, Coronula diadema.

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Murre (Uria aalge)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 11, 2009 01:27 PM PDT

Description

Geez, talk about an unpronounceable scientific name. These were also everywhere.

Photos / Sounds

What

Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 11, 2009 01:21 PM PDT

Description

These were ubiquitous little things, usually in groups of 2-5. They were constantly fleeing before the boat, seemingly unable to decide whether diving or flying would be best.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

Pink-footed Shearwater (Ardenna creatopus)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 2009

Place

Missing Location

Description

Shearwaters sort of look like surprisingly agile gulls from a distance.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

What

Buller's Shearwater (Ardenna bulleri)

Observer

kueda

Date

October 2009

Place

Missing Location

Description

Cagey and fast! Not a good combo.

Tags

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