Every week, Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching provides the Dana Point Times and San Clemente Times a report on the week’s whale and dolphin sightings from naturalist Laura Lopez, in addition to a weekly log.
Here is Lopez’s report for the past week:
Early one morning, off Aliso Canyon close to a pod of Common Dolphin was a pair of Minke whales. With one following the other, we watched as they were likely tracking the dolphin to join in feeding on small bait fish.
Risso’s Dolphin in small groups have been observed beyond the continental shelf. These cetaceans generally prefer deeper offshore waters, and have been seen in groups from 10-30 foraging, simultaneously diving as a group with a dive time of about three to five minutes. Surface behaviors included flipper slapping, tail slapping, and breaching.
Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin pods have been estimated to have up to 100 members. During most of these sightings, these dolphin with several calves seemed to be on the move and some groups were occasionally feeding. Active pods displayed high breaches in our wake while others were bow-riding. There were multiple sightings of Coastal Bottlenose Dolphin usually in groups of two to six. One day as we were leaving on our last trip, we had a pair of coastal bottlenose dolphin in Dana Point Harbor. They turned up the outer channel and began foraging in the shallow water and as we were turning to leave, they both simultaneously breached off our bow.
Common Dolphin encounters included several massive pods called “superpods” or “megapods” containing a thousand or more dolphin with subgroups of nursery pod, which include females with calves and groups of about 10-20 clearly feeding while others engaged with our vessels. Multiple groups would come together forming mega-pods of well over 1,000 members. These impressive pods of common dolphin seemed to go on for miles. There were several dolphin stampedes as these dolphin looked like they were sprinting across the water racing each other as they porpoised or leapt out of the water in harmony. Seeing so many tiny calves synchronizing with their mom and they kept up with their pod is always a beautiful sight.
Risso’s, Bottlenose and Common Dolphin are considered small-toothed whales and often be found near a continental shelf as we have in the Southern California Bight. Here upwelling can bring nutrients to the surface potentially feeding bait fish which are prey for these dolphin.
Here is the latest Whale Watching Log from Dana Wharf Whale Watching:
Sept. 1 – Common Dolphin
Aug. 31 – 1 Fin Whale, Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Aug. 30 – Common Dolphin
Aug. 29 – 2 Minke Whales, Common Dolphin
Aug. 28 – Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, Risso’s Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, 1 Mola Mola
Aug. 27 – Common Dolphin
Aug. 26 – Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Aug. 25 – Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Aug. 24 – Common Dolphin, Mola Mola
Aug. 23 – Risso’s Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin
Aug. 22 – Common Dolphin