8/10/22 “Lunge Feeding, Risso’s, & a Mighty Blue Whale”
Bluuuuuueeeeee Whaaaaaaallllessss! As the powerful northwesterly winds continue to pound our coast, they also continue to serve as the physical mechanism for the nutrient rich coastal upwelling that fuels our ecosystems. As a result (amongst many) we have started to see Blue Whales out over the canyon the last few days. Not only the Blues, but their slightly smaller cousins, Fin Whales have also made an appearance. Today, our morning trip started out with several Humpback Whales, scattered about the “shallows” just a few miles north of the harbor. Not long into our first sighting, a humpback breached right next to the boat: full body, massive hang time, and a big splash riled the crowd with a big collective “Woa!!!” We watched the animal for a few minutes longer, until the pressure started to rise (and the atmospheric pressure began to drop). The Northwesterly winds began to whisper in warning. If we had any chance of venturing out to find the Blues, we had to leave right away. Out we went, and little by little did the wind and seas continue to build. Just as we reached the Monterey Submarine Canyon, the wind backed off and the white caps abated. The deep breath before the great exhale. Suddenly, two massive blows appeared off the starboard bow. We raced to investigate, and were greeted by… Fin Whales! The second largest animal on Earth… and the two we found might literally be the largest of them! Not only that, the two beasts spent an exorbitant amount of time at the surface, never really sounding and milling about and at one point swimming RIGHT next to the boat. A light puff out of the west sounded the final call: wind was coming, and time was running low. The radio called out from our sister vessel (The New Horizon)… Blue Whales, and only a mile west of us. We looked at the map, the clock, and the wind, and made the decision. Go for it! Not five minutes later, found ourselves looking this way and that, and
everywhere we looked, was a blue whale. The problem: which one? Precious few minutes passed like hours, struggling to get a look, and JUST as we were about to throw in the towel, TWO Blue Whales appeared just off the starboard side. The largest species of animal in Earth’s 4.6 billion years strode right along side of us, and these two were prize cows! Their massive blows held us all in reverence, until – with an arch of the back – they sounded (with a fluke up dive!). No embellishments here: not three seconds after they sounded did the wind kick up several notches. White caps went from light and scattered, to numerous and large. With zero seconds on the clock, at the end of overtime, Captain Danny had thrown a hail Mary pass right into the N-Zone, and now it was time to boogy on home with the seas at our back and a harbor ahead. Several harbor porpoise were sighted along the way, and a group of 7 humpbacks intercepted our travel not far from the harbor (no big deal), and we all walked off the boat, down the dock, and back to our homes. Afternoon trips: cancelled. One and done, and done well.