Saturday, June 20, 2015

Farallons

Sigrid and I went on whale-watching tour with Mark and Cecily to the Farallons and beyond with the Oceanic Society. It was a foggy morning when we arrived at 7:30 am.


The boat was about half full, which meant we weren't all that crowded.






As we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, the fog was holding steady.


We stopped near Point Diablo to check out the sunning harbor seals.


Here's the lighthouse at Point Diablo.


Shortly after that, we passed Point Bonita, and headed into the open ocean.




The water was choppy.


Twenty-seven miles later, we reached the Southeast Farallon Island.



Here's a Stellar sea lion - notable for its bear-like face and large flippers.


These photos don't really do justice to the Farallons, but it's the best I have.


After some time at the island, we headed further west, to the continental shelf, where the depth plunges from 300 ft to 3000 ft. This underwater cliff creates an upswelling of nutrient-rich water, leading to an explosion in the krill population, and thus attracting whales. But before we saw any whales, we saw something smaller:


That's a mola mola (sunfish), the largest bony fish in the ocean.


It was slurping up velella velella that were floating on the surface.




We also saw some tufted puffins and black-footed albatrosses. But none of the expected humpback whales.

Finally, we saw some spouts. Were those our humpback whales? No, they were blue whales!





We actually saw quite a few blue whales. Which made us happy.



Eventually, it was time to head back, and so we hightailed it to San Francisco.


As we approached the bridge, we saw some humpback whales, feeding on bait fish.






Here's another:




We also got a view of the city that you don't ordinarily get.


One last humpback appeared on the other side of the boat, creating an opportunity for a bridge-plus-whale-tail photo, but I missed it.


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