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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Big Group of Whales - Day 1

Friday when I got off work I heard killer whales on the hydrophones so I went out to the west side to see if I could see them. It was nice and sunny in town, so I was surprised when I got out there to see the morning fog hadn't burned off at all! Not only did I not see the whales, but I couldn't see much of anything with visibility of less than 100 yards:

I had better luck on Saturday, when I got to Lime Kiln just as J and K Pods turned around and started coming back south. They were traveling in one large group, and when they were still more than a mile away they started getting super active. I estimate that, through binoculars, I saw about 15 breaches in less than a minute! What an impressive sight, even at a distance. As they got closer, it was also impressive to see so many dorsal fins at once:

The whales weren't quite as active as they passed the lighthouse, but there were still some tailslaps, spyhops, and breaches:

One whale breached very close to this fishing boat! Just as a side note, this boat was parked there well before the whales were around, and remained stationary throughout the whole passby.

You can't quite tell in these photos, but the water was pretty rough out with some swells larger than we normally see in the summer. Some of the smaller whales were surfacing higher out of the water, presumably to make sure they were clearing the swells to breathe. Here's J41 Eclipse rocketing to the surface:

The whales quickly made their way south, and after a while I decided to go check out the birds at False Bay. I was amazed to see more than 500 peeps there! I put on some boots and went out onto the mudflats to take a better look. They were mostly western sandpipers with a few least sandpipers mixed in. If there was another rarity in there I'll never know. They were all spread out feeding, making it look almost like the mud was crawling with ants.

The patterns in the mudflats looked pretty neat in the outgoing tide, too:
While I was thrilled with my whale encounter for Saturday, little did I know it would be topped by another encounter with a big group of whales on Sunday. Stay tuned for my next post...


Vera said...

I love the marching sandpiper!

Jessica said...

Great pics! Can't wait to see the next installment. Oh how I wish I could see that in person.