October 15, 2014

2014 Whale Watching Trip

Many of us awoke to drizzle and overcast skies in Santa Cruz.  Dressed in several layers of clothing and raingear, we arrived at 8:30 a.m. at Sanctuary Cruises in Moss Landing.  We were all sufficiently armed with motion sickness wristbands and meds since we were a bit apprehensive about the ocean conditions that lay ahead.  But we were quickly distracted by Naturalist Lori sharing her wealth of knowledge as she pointed out the sea lions lounging on docks, harbor seals, otters, numerous birds, as well as a Mola Mola (sun fish) as we started our journey.  As we passed the breakwater and headed out to sea, we all let out a collective sigh of relief and our fears of foul weather disappeared.  The water was calm, mild swells, and little wind.  And not too much later, the dark clouds disappeared into beautiful blue skies.  Perfect conditions!

Before long we spotted the white spray of water in the distance and Owner/Captain Mike Sack headed toward the first group of over 30 humpback whales that we saw during our 4-hour cruise.  In addition to being close enough to see the barnacles on their bodies, we saw a whale breech, another slap its huge pectoral fin five times and flukes galore.  Several times the Captain cut the engines so we could hear the whoosh of the air coming out of the whale’s blowhole.  He also put a mic in the water so we could hear the amazing sounds of the whales and other ocean life. 

But the most exciting portion of the trip for most (all?) of us was being in the midst of a pod (numbering around 1,000!) of Long Nosed Common Dolphins.  They entertained us as we watched them frolicking, diving and “porpoising” (leaping out of the water) in the ship’s wake.  The pod seemed to go on forever.  It was mesmerizing, magical and beautiful. 

In addition (thanks to retiree Jenny Anderson) some of the birds we saw were:  Common Murres, Brandt's Cormorants, Elegant Terns, Black-vented Shearwaters, Western Grebes, Rhinoceros Auklet, Brown Pelican, Pink-footed Shearwaters, and Cassin's Auklet.

It was a very memorable day!  Let’s make this an annual event!


Dolphins Bow Riding    Whale Tale

Retirees    Retirees   Retirees

Retirees   Retirees  Retirees

Humpback Whale  Whale Tail