Sunday, July 5, 2015:
Balmy conditions, good visibility through to the sea floor near Santa Cruz. Just east of the Soquel Canyon we found a pod of 12 Risso’s dolphins; we could see them under the water, down about 20 feet. Risso’s are not usually very playful but this day they were leaping or “porpoising,” spy-hopping and acting quite animated for us to see.
We did not have to travel much farther for some beautiful views of humpback whales. We started to see several small groups of 2-3 animals about the middle of Soquel Canyon hear Santa Cruz. We saw breaching, pec slaps, fin slaps, and a few whales swam up to and around the boat. Later we saw a half-dozen harbor porpoises and a raft of about 20 otters in the kelp near Santa Cruz. To top it off there were harbor seals on the docks, soaking up the sun in the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.
Albatross, Monterey Bay, CA. Photo © john c. bruckman
Monday, July 6, 2015:
On Monday we barely made it out of the harbor before spotting a pair of whales breaching repeatedly, maybe a mile or 2 off shore. As we got closer, we discovered that this was a mom and calf frolicking in the sunshine! They displayed pectoral fin slaps, tail throws, tail slaps, chin slaps, and some breaches as well! Later, a third whale joined the party. On the way home, we spotted a few otters wrapped up in the kelp, aerating their fur with their paws. Great day!
Otters in the Kelp near Santa Cruz, CA Photo: Jim Goff
Tuesday, July 7, 2015:
Tuesday we had another neat encounter with 20 Risso’s dolphins. The dolphins were in echelon swimming formation- which is all in a row ahead of the boat. We also had fun alongside 6 pacific white sided dolphins bow-riding with the Velocity. In the middle of the bay, near Monterey Canyon we found several humpback whales feeding, some surfacing close to the boat. And one of our favorite pelagic birds: 2 black-footed albatross!
Risso’s Dolphins near Santa Cruz CA. Photo: Michael Nelson
On our weekend trips we’ve been visiting South Santa Cruz County near Seacliff State Beach to catch glimpses of the juvenile great white sharks that are spending some time in the area.
Great white sharks visit Santa Cruz County on the Monterey Bay, June/July 2015. Photos: Azure Cohen
We’re also very pleased to report that our local heroes – the Whale Entanglement Team (or WET) successfully freed a humpback whale caught up in fishing line this week. Go Team!