11/18/21 9am “Double Breach, Nursery Pod, Megapod of Northern Right Whale Dolphins!”
Both the New Horizon and Pacifica left this morning at 9 sharp for the morning tours. We had calm seas, warm fall sun, and a bit of northeast wind. The Pacifica moved northwest for about 15 minutes before seeing a few spouts in the distance. We approached them as they dove and waited. Then we waited some more. This pair stayed down for close to 10 minutes before resurfacing to the north. We gave them another dive, but gave up on them soon after as they were long winded (long breath holders). Soon after, we found another pair of more cooperative humpbacks. Nearly as soon as we stopped on these, Captain Danny got word of a rare sighting to the north, so we wrapped up and took off.
A half hour later, about 5 miles west of Moss Landing, we saw what the report was all about. Orcas, and lots of them (roughly 100). However, these were not our usual coastal California marine mammal eaters, these were the offshore pelagic fish and shark eaters! This was a sighting so rare, 4 of the 5 captains on the water had never seen them before! This orca population very rarely (as far as we know), ranges closer than 50 miles to the shore, but this was our lucky day. We had them scattered in a couple square mile area, so almost any direction you would look, you could see spouts followed by dorsal fins.
My suspicion as to why these offshore orcas had come in so close to shore, is that for the first time in a long time, the Monterey Bay area is getting strong runs of bluefin tuna (one of the offshore orcas favorite foods). Since about October 1, 100-200 pound bluefin tuna have been running by the thousands between Point Sur and Pescadero. The populations have gotten strong enough to where they are starting to reclaim their old ranges!
We gave these orcas the majority of our trip, getting amazing close looks at males, females, and calves. On our way in, we stopped to see some feeding humpback whales off the beaches of Marina. When it finally came time to go, we all left with the feeling that we’d really lucked out!