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Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Evening on the West Side

We've had some incredible weather over the last 24 hours, with lightning and thunderstorms that are pretty uncharacteristic for this area. This afternoon right when I got off work, however, the sun came out, the rain stopped, and I was drawn to the west side after reports of orcas around earlier in the day. When I got to Lime Kiln, the clouds were dramatic and the water was flat calm. The spotting conditions were great, but there were no whales in sight, though it didn't take long to see harbor porpoise, harbor seal, and even a California sea lion.

I joined several other hopeful whale-watchers along the shoreline, where someone had been busy stacking rocks. This was an impressive tower!

The tide was flooding pretty strongly, but this harbor seal was holding onto his haul out as long as possible:

A couple purse seiners came by, super close to shore as they always seem to do:

It's no wonder they were out there today, because there were salmon all over the place. A couple of times a group of them started jumping like crazy, giving me a chance to get my first-ever salmon "double breach" and almost a quadruple breach!

It was so pretty I was content to just sit and take it all in - this shot was from Land Bank:

I was actually just getting ready to leave when I heard a loud trumpeting sound coming from out in the water. I thought I had heard something similar a few minutes before, but I thought it was probably some noise from the freighter that was passing by. This time, however, I spotted the long, low back of a humpback whale! Surprise! Right after I spotted him this guy got really active, breaching and spyhopping several times as he made his way north.

Humpback whale exhaling while spyhopping

Humpback breach!

The whale seemed to be getting closer to shore as it moved north, so I decided to stop at County Park on my way home to see if I could spot it again. It rounded the point just shortly after I got there, and while it wasn't much closer to shore, I got to point it out to some campers who were thrilled to see it. Here's the whale arching to go down on a deep dive just past Low Island:

It was a beautiful September evening, and an awesome way to end the work day!


Julie said...

i'm drooling all over the place... amazing pics with a beautifully written post. i love humpbacks! i can't believe how close it came to sjcp! take it all in for me, monika, and keep sharing. i need it!

Vera said...

I am so happy that you got to end your day in such an amazing way. I am very impressed with the rock pile after trying to do something similar yesterday with miserable results.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Love the humpback roll shot, so atmospheric.
Tower of stones is impressive, only ever managed 6 to stay up but they were rounded pebbles.