It’s orca season! Monterey Bay Whale Watch saw ten orcas preying on a minke whale and a harbor porpoise on the 15th. Here are some orca images.
The gray whale counters in Santa Barbara are starting to see lots of gray whale mother calf pairs, the reports from Mexico said it was a good calving year.
This means lots of food for orcas. There are media reports of many undernourished elephant seals in the area. Young sea lions are moving up from So Cal, they are covering the breakwater in Monterey and the visitors dock at Elkhorn. The orca population should continue to recover, as long as their food supply remains plentiful. Expect to see them sighted closer and closer to seal haul outs as they realize humans won’t shoot them. Last summer they were photographed inside the breakwater in Monterey.
I saw lines of pelicans, still in their breeding plumage, flying north near Moss Beach late last week too, the seasons are changing.
I am uncomfortable with whale watch boats following gray mother calf pairs now, they are in stealth mode to avoid orcas. Good captains avoid them.
Grays are at or near the surf line passing us in decent numbers through early May. You might have to wait a bit but if you are patient and the surf and winds are mild they are easily seen from shore. Point Lobos, Pigeon Point, the lighthouse at Drakes, the coastal bluffs at Davenport, and Bodega Head are great spots.
If you go on the boats over the next month you may see orca kills, something I don’t enjoy, but it is life unvarnished.
I’ve been on all the boats in the area, and recommend Monterey Bay Whale Watch, all their captains are good, and the naturalists top rate. If Nancy or Richard are at the helm it’s a special treat, both are researchers, and publish papers on orcas. Try to pick days with low wind and go early.