Archive for the 'Whale Watch' Category

Elephant Seals at Point Reyes – Jan. 19, 2011

I just got back from Chimney Rock overlook where the elephant seals are thicker than bugs on a bumper. There are also a few scattered males along Drakes Beach. Both places allow for relatively close-up viewing but make sure to bring your scope or binoculars. If you are patient, you might see the females giving birth!

Drakes Beach is best at lower tides. Avoid the weekend crowds (or go early). The lighthouse and Chimney Rock are great places to watch the migrating gray whales too.

You can’t appreciate the size of these amazing creatures from my photos. Some of the males are as big as a car and weigh 5,000 pounds (the ones in my photos are not that big).


Nick’s Cove, Tomales Bay – Jan. 4, 2011

Well , five of us showed up at Nick’s on a cool foggy morning, by the time we got going, the sun was out and it was toasty.

We headed for Walker Creek and sure enough there were two Baldies sitting in the big Eucalyptus tree right by the mouth of the creek. We drifted right under them and they sat there and watched us. Santa brought Ellen a new video camera so she put it to good use.

We decided to cross the bay to see if we could find the w part of the deal and sure enough we could spot an occasional spout against the cliffs on the far shore. The time between spouts was so long that we weren’t quite sure what we were seeing as we usually see them they breathe more often.

We got to the far shore and sure enough there was a 1/2 grown Grey Whale swimming around in a small area. It must have been feeding because it would stay down quite a long time between breaths. It also wasn’t the same one we saw a few weeks ago as it had none of the pink around the blowhole area.

We paddled and drifted as close to the cliffs as we could and it swam back and forth in a line about 100 ft from shore, directly across from Tom’s Point. We watched it for 1/2 hour or so and Ellen got some excellent video. Then we headed further into the bay to find a lunch spot.

The paddle back to Nick’s was pleasantly warm and calm. When we arrived, we saw some new Chevy Volts being filmed in the parking lot. We may be in the commercial.

We’re going to go again Thurs if any of you want to join us. Nick’s 10am OTW.

What a day!


A Whale of a Day on Tomales – Dec. 12, 2010

Well, 10 PPers showed up at Nick’s and were ready to go before the 10 am OTW as usual. We weren’t the only ones as Scott Derryberry had a group as did my old paddling buddies celebrating Jayah’s BD.

Off we headed towards the mouth enjoying the overcast, windless conditions. We thought we spotted some mist or maybe a flock of shorebirds but soon enough we saw the ummistakable spout of a whale. Scott’s group were closer than we were but soon we had all converged in the area near Tom’s point. We all drifted along as this young Grey Whale swam leisurely along. We were off to the side of its path and hadn’t seen it for awhile when it surfaced about 15ft in front of Scott’s boat. Much excitement and arm waving ensued. Then our curious buddy decided to check out all the yakkers and did a big old spyhop right in front of us. Satisfied that we were friendly he proceeded with his business.

We paddled out to Avila’s for lunch and a beach hike. We keep looking for our whale but he never came out to the mouth. After a nice lunch and beach walk we headed back knowing the whale in the bay somewhere. Sure enough, right near Tom’s Point, he was swimming around as before. We spent some more quality time in his vicinity until he finally started heading towards the mouth.

We finished up our paddle and loaded the boats and debriefed about our close encounter of the Grey Whale kind.


Paddlers in Tomales Bay were treated to viewing a whale yesterday.    I just posted my first attempt at a video of the whale.

I will try uploading in higher quality when I have a little time.  Overall it’s a bit shaky, but for a point and shoot – that’s about as good as I can get from a kayak.

Dick M.

Whales at Bodega – August 2010

Aug. 27:   I saw 8-10 whales on Tue. and Wed. right out from the parking lot at Bodega Head, some VERY close to the rocks. The whale migration docent, Larry, was out there both days. He says that the whales are going to stay there and are not migrating. He calls them the summer residents, and says there are 20 of them.  It’s come down the whale pipeline (their soundings can carry for up to 1000 miles!) that there isn’t so much food in the Bering Sea, so Larry says they are going to be here until Nov. or Dec., before traveling south. There is an abundance of krill in the Bodega area. On both days, very close in, there was one especially large (50′) & smooth whale that Larry calls Mr. Clean (probably MS. Clean), because he’s so barnacle free and doesn’t have any scratches. Quite a show out there. Look for Larry. He’s a pleasant looking older fellow, with gray hair and beard, who sits on the end-of-parking lot rocks in a folding chair. He’s full of information and loves to share it. Happy whale watching!


Aug 25:  If you want to see the whales, today would be the day to go while the weather holds.  We launched from Doran Beach and headed out to the Seal Rock where we had seen a blow even before we launched.  We closed on the whale inshore of the rock when it got quite close to where waiting.  The whale dove and surfaced sever times close to where we were waiting, he dove, we waited then I had to back paddle because the water was starting to swirl around my kayak.  Think it was a Minke.

We then headed south for a mile or so, turned and headed for Bodega Head outside of Seal Rock where we picked up a Gray.  We tracked the whale for about 20 minutes watching it go deep to feed.  Back to the beach for food and the addition of a paddling jacket.  After the break we headed out again and as soon as we rounded the head we ran into three whales who were just poking along doing whale stuff.  Spent between one to two hours pacing the whales up and down the coast and watching the people on the cliffs.  We were close enough to hear the whales inhale as well as exhale, it’s much softer.  One of the reasons we went outside the whales was that it took us out of being down wind of them, whale breath is not good.

While crashing waves on the rocky shore can be intimidating being 100 yards or more off shore was quite safe yesterday.  There was about a 3 foot swell running with an ocasionall 7 footer coming through.  The wind ?  about 5 to 10 knots from the northwest.

VT Don

Aug 21: Today to the whales were between Seal Rock and the buoy about half way to the mouth of Tomales.   I counted 3 that were just swimming back and forth between them.   Another one was hanging out in the channel between Seal Rock and Bodega Head.  Hope you see them tomorrow.


Aug. 18: Hey gang. I’ve been camping at Bodega/Doran the last couple days. Saw a couple whales Mon. afternoon, but it was pretty choppy w/cold wind, so I didn’t stick around. Went back out yesterday around 2:00p, and saw 6-8 pretty close to shore, right off the parking lot viewpoint. Watched them hang about, for an hour or so. Long back sightings, with a bit of tail now and then. Today was so flat calm–great conditions, so checked it out again before coming home. Saw two whales down south, just off the harbor buoy, cavorting around. That was all. I’ve been out there a number of times over the last 3 weeks or so, and have always seen them. Awesome.

Debbie (of the bright orange rec boat)

Aug 18: Thanks for the heads up. Great excuse to have fish n chips at The Boathouse. I saw at least 4 whales surfacing frequently and not moving very far. I assume they were feeding. I didn’t think they were Gray Whales but after I got home and compared my pictures to whale guides I decided they were skinny young Gray Whales that hadn’t developed the prominent mottling of adults. A few pictures:

Aug 18: A friend and I met at Bodega Bay for breakfast this morning and then went out to Bodega Head to check for whales. We saw one whale quite a ways out.


Aug. 17: A friend called me just before sunset tonight from Bodega Head all excited about her whale sightings. Multiple sightings of perhaps 10 or more whales close to shore. I am going up in the morning to check it out.