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:
Gray whales are usually the BIG story in December, but it’s actually the gray-colored Fin Whales that are taking the spotlight early this month!
Each of the last three days, fin whales were encountered from as far north as Crystal Cove and as far south as San Onofre. They have been located over 12 miles offshore and as close as two miles off our coast. Often, these whales have been feeding with large pods of long-beaked common dolphins and hundreds of birds. Fin whales can consume up to two tons or 4,000 pounds of food in a day consisting mostly of small fish and krill. One day, the fin whales were observed racing around and appeared to be chasing or following each other, possibly courting. The behavior of these whales was very unpredictable, as they were frequently changing speed and direction as they traveled. At the same time, dolphins were feeding on the plentiful bait fish in the area, but the fin whales did not appear to be interested in feeding with them.
We often see mostly juvenile gray whales as their migration season starts. Many of these early whales are yearlings which are traveling on their first southbound migration along with other pregnant females. This week we encountered five southbound whales all traveling at a steady pace usually just a few miles off our coast and passing just outside the Dana Point Harbor. With a very consistent breathing sequence, they were observed blowing a few times, then staying just below the water’s surface between dives and rarely fluking. We did see one juvenile breach as we left it off the San Clemente Pier later in the week.
Multiple larger than usual pods of coastal and offshore bottlenose dolphins with calves were very boat friendly all week. The offshore bottlenose dolphins were frequently charging our boat to bow ride as we approached. We were treated to several great aerial shows as they rocketed out of the water while surfing our wake as we made faster passes through them.
Here is the latest Whale Watching Log from Dana Wharf Whale Watching:
Dec. 22 – Humpback Whale, Common Dolphin
Dec. 21 – Bottlenose, Common and Risso’s Dolphin
Dec. 20 – Bottlenose, Common Dolphin
Dec. 19 – 3 Fin Whales, Common Dolphin
Dec. 18 – 4 Fin Whales, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Dec. 17 – 7 Fin Whales, 2 Gray Whales, Common Dolphin, 15 Mola Mola
Dec. 16 – 3 Fin Whales, Common Dolphin
Dec. 15 – Common Dolphin
Dec. 14 – Common Dolphin