Today Sarah and I took the Western Explorer out to, well, explore a bit.
It was a beautiful winter day, just a bit overcast, yet warm, with just a gentle swell rolling beneath us as we headed offshore.
Soon we found a lone little Minke whale (beautiful animals, but very elusive). Then we encountered a large male Elephant seal bobbing in the water, catching his breath after what was probably a very long dive (they can stay down over an hour at a time). Then on to the Coronado Islands we went, encountering playful Common and Pacific White Sided Dolphins along the way. The islands, as always, were magnificent in their jagged beauty.
Still no Gray Whales or Fin Whales (both of which we were hoping to find), so I decided to head further offshore to search. Then I noticed a tall dark shape in the distance. Could it be? No…., Maybe….. Yes, Orca Whales!! Soon we were surrounded by about 20 Orca Whales, including 3 adult males. After a few minutes of observation it became clear that these were Offshores (fish feeding) as opposed to Transients (mammal feeding). Orca whales are extremely rare near San Diego. It was such a magnificent find that we ended up staying out with them for over 2.5 hours until another whale watching boat, the “America” showed up.
Here is a little update. It turns out that these whales are actually classified as Eastern Tropical Pacific Orca whales, which makes the sighting all that much rarer. A researcher I spoke with says one of them was last seen in the Gulf of California in 2006.