Offshore Killer Whales
Spent last weekend in the San Francisco, CA bay area after having business meetings there during the week. My daughter flew into San Francisco on Friday afternoon and we spent the weekend seeing the sights, which included a whale watching trip from Monterey Bay. I had made the same whale watching trip in 2013 and have been looking forward to going back ever since.
With the bad weather that they were predicting for the weekend, we changed the day that we went on this trip from Sunday to Saturday. We missed the rain but they issued a high wave warning for Saturday. We were thrilled that they didn’t cancel the trip but they warned everyone that it was going to be a rough ride on the boat with the high swells.
We went off-shore for about 10 miles and spotted a gray whale. He wasn’t very close to the boat and didn’t do much so we were hoping that it wasn’t going to be the only sighting of the day.
We then came upon a large group of long-beaked common dolphins that came very close to the boat. They estimated that there were at least 250 dolphins. It was cool to see so many dolphins but we wanted whales.
Not too long after seeing the dolphins, they spotted some Killer Whales in the distance. Everyone got very excited with the anticipation of seeing these majestic mammals. We ended up seeing 3 groups of these Orca’s, 15 to 20 total whales. The crew on the boat identified the whales as “offshore Orcas”, which are a rare find. The biologist told us that this was only the second time that she had seen this type of Orca in the past 5 years. There are three types of Orcas and this variety is rarely spotted this close to shore. The dominant male had the largest dorsal fin and there was a baby Orca, which was doing his best to keep up.
It was a real challenge to get any decent photos of these whales with the high swells. The boat would rock up and down violently and it was all that we could do to stay upright at times. We initially stayed at the back of the boat, which was the most stable part of the boat but had to move to the front to see the Orcas when they were first spotted. I about fell over several times when trying to move around. There were lots of people who got sea sick but we made it unscathed.
We had a great time but wished that we could have stayed out longer. We then headed to Big Sur to see the landscapes and further south to see some coastal redwood trees. Drove back to San Francisco on Saturday night and went to Alcatraz/Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday. It was a very fun trip and I’d love to do it again when we had more time.
All photos were taken with my new Canon 7D Mark II and Canon 100-400 II lens, handheld.
Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 286 mm
Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 400mm
Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 214 mm
Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 349 mm
Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 400mm