Every week, Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching provides the Dana Point Times and San Clemente Times a report on the week’s whale and dolphin sightings from naturalist Laura Lopez, in addition to a weekly log.
Here is Lopez’s report for the past week:
Mega Pod of Common Dolphin Seen for Days!
For five consecutive days, we likely saw the same Mega Pod of long-beaked common dolphin numbering in the thousands off our coast. This pod has been enjoying feeding on the bountiful bait fish joined by hundreds of sea lions and various sea birds. The sheer magnitude and density of animals in our encounters has been impressive! Plus, some days there have been fin or humpback whales feeding with them. At times, the dolphin would engage with us and approach our vessels racing through the water while frequently changing directions in what seemed like a choreographed symphony. A humpback whale even breached in the middle of a massive feeding frenzy! These highly social animals could be heard communicating with each other using clicks and whistles made by pressing air through their blowholes. Scientists believe each dolphin has a unique whistle called a ‘signature whistle’, which is used to identify an individual just like we humans have given names.
Patches – the local SoCal cetacean celebrity, a leucistic offshore bottlenose dolphin – paid us a visit mid-week with his pod of 15-20 others heading south off San Clemente about five miles out. Early one morning a pod of about 20 Risso’s dolphin was cruising south off the Dana Point Headlands in a “chorus line” formation then diving to feed. Later in the week, we spotted an awesome pod of at least 40-50 very active Risso’s dolphin including calves. This appeared to be a mixed pod with a few bottlenose and even long-beaked common dolphin all traveling together. There were several breaches and tail slaps!
We ended the week with two pairs of southbound adult Gray whales seen in the same day.
Here is the latest Whale Watching Log from Dana Wharf Whale Watching:
Dec. 29 – 2 Gray Whales, Bottlenose Dolphin, Mola Mola, Swordfish
Dec. 28 – 2 Gray Whales, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 27 – Pacific Whitesided Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Swordfish
Dec. 26 – 5 Fin Whales, 2 Gray Whales, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 25 – No Trips
Dec. 24 – 4 Gray Whales, Risso’s Dolphin, Pacific Whitesided Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 23 – Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 22 – Humpback Whale, Common Dolphin
Dec. 21 – Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin
Dec. 20 – Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 19 – 3 Fin Whales, Common Dolphin