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:
As we enter further into the first phase of the Gray Whale Southbound Migration, we are seeing more cow/calf (mom/baby) pairs heading south along our coast, usually in shallower water very close to shore. Other adults are traveling as singles, pairs or trios, many consistently fluking usually traveling at about 3.5 miles per hour. Most of the baby gray whales we are seeing are likely just days old. Many of these cow/calf pairs are very low profile or stealthy, with little to no visible blows and are usually spotted by their very distinctive fluke or “foot” prints. This fluke print is a circular pattern on the water’s surface trailing a whale created by the upward stroke of the whale’s tail breaking the surface tension in the water.
While gray whales prefer to give birth in the lagoons off Baja California, Mexico, where the water is warmer as these newborn calves are not born with a blubber layer to keep them warm, many are born in the open ocean. The lagoons also provide shelter and keep them safe from their primary predator, the killer whale or Orca. It is estimated over 40% of these calves are born north of Los Angeles.
Patches, the leucistic offshore bottlenose dolphin also checked in with us this week. He’s always a fan favorite. Traveling with 20-30 other bottlenose dolphin, he is easily recognized by the patchy black, white and pink coloration on his body which is how he got his name.
Long-beaked common dolphin have been seen in pods of various sizes including nursery pods with many babies. Late one day, there was a massive feeding frenzy about five miles off the coast just north of the Dana Point Headlands with well over a thousand dolphin for what looked like miles, including sea lions and hundreds of sea birds. Small groups of dolphin would take turns coming to our boat to bow ride. Suddenly, they started to stampede all around us with many of the birds following. It was quite spectacular to see so many animals racing across the water under the cloudy skies!
Here is the latest Whale Watching Log from Dana Wharf Whale Watching:
Jan. 20 – 5 Gray Whales, Bottlenose Dolphin
Jan. 19 – Common Dolphin
Jan. 18 – Common Dolphin, Pacific Whitesided Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin
Jan. 17 – Gray Whale, Common Dolphin
Jan. 16 – No Trips Due to Weather
Jan. 15 – 4 Gray Whales, Common Dolphin
Jan. 14 – No Trips Due to Weather
Jan. 13 – 6 Gray Whales, including 3 Cow/Calf Pairs, Common Dolphin
Jan. 12 – 1 Cow/Calf Pair, 1 Gray Whale, Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin with Patches
Jan. 11 – 1 Cow/Calf Pair, Common Dolphin