Our school field trips to the protective water of Pillar Point harbor sometimes have some real surprises. During the fall of 2016, Humpback whales were consistently seen lunge feeding near shore where students could observe safety from the jetties. An amazing teaching opportunity!
Launching from Pillar Point Harbor, we’ll have a leisurely paddle through the protected and scenic harbor. Cormorants, pelicans, terns and harbor seals join us for our naturalist-led field trip. Across the harbor we can beachcomb, explore tidepools and have a shore lunch before paddling back.
A very popular activity with students is pulling a large seine net to examine our catch and continue our discussion of animal adaptations. Teachers, please feel free to call us to discuss curriculum ideas in greater detail.
The cost of your field trip is $48 per person with a complimentary trip for one teacher chaperone. $50 per person weekends.
Hope you can join us!
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: (831) 459 8548
127 Mason St, Santa Cruz CA 95060
Encounter With Friendly Humpback Whales of Tonga
The South Pacific Nation of Tonga is one of the few places in the world where in water whale encounters are officially sanctioned.
Humpback whales were hunted to near extinction in Tongan waters until 1978.
Today a whale watching industry is helping to stimulate the local economy and the majestic whales are fully protected. The level of interaction was dictated by the whales. As we backed away they approached closer.
As we slid into the water, two presumably adolescent male humpback whales initiated a close encounter with us.
We departed Tonga with a sense of profound awe and appreciation.
Thank you to the kind people of Tonga and to the magnificent humpback whales.
What an extraordinary day on the Bay! The whale activity continues to be awesome and I would recommend a camera with a good zoom! Keep adjusting your position and be alert to changes both in weather and whales. Paddling in the fog is treacherous and motorboats can’t see you. Viewing wildlife from from our beaches is excellent now or paddle with an expeirenced partner or guide.
It’s busy out there and not for inexperienced boaters. In fact, in the last 3 weeks we’ve heard reports of paddlers getting into trouble, hoping to get out to the whales. The supermoon brought extreme tidal changes with a dangerous ebb flow out the harbor mouth where boaters dumped and were flushed out to sea.
The humpbacks are diving to feed at depth as well as lunge feeding at the surface. Using their plates of baleen that hangs from the upper jaw, they filter out their prey of choice, currently anchovies.
The cliffs above Mitchel’s Cove, West Cliff of Santa Cruz still has regular visits by ” Mitch” a humpback whale who will lunge feed in 10 feet of water, 30 feet from shore! People are lining up on shore for the best view ever and its free!
The California population of humpback whales may exceed 50 feet in length and weigh over 80,000 pounds. When food is available, they may consume over 4000 pounds daily trapping their prey in fringed baleen plates that hang from their upper jaw. Humpback whales that give birth in the South Pacific region of Tonga feed in the rich Antarctica polar region and may weigh as much as 50 tons or 100,000 pounds.
Dipping into the indigo blue deep water around the islands of Tonga, it was somewhat difficult to grasp how big these incredible mammals were. Snorkeling next to them it was clear you were with one of the biggest animals on earth but size was harder to determine against the deep blue background. However, during one memorable swim a mother humpback whale glided below us to escort her calf away from the potentially dangerous shallow reef that the young whale was heading for. As the mature female whale cruised below us we could see how massive she was against the shallow reef. It was truly one of those moments of awe and wonder watching a graceful, gentle and gigantic creature care for its young calf. Join our next Whale encounter in the lagoons of Baja with http://www.bluewaterventures.org
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
What a spectacular day on the water with the humpback whales and marine wonders of the Monterey Bay. Bait fish have moved in close to our coast again creating a feeding frenzy among sea birds, sea lions, dolphins and whales. Humpbacks, which are capable of switching their diet from krill to bait fish thrive in such conditions where as other baleen whales such as Blues are restricted to krill blooms.
Check out http://www.bluewaterventures.org for our next whales and wildlife adventure by kayak, bioluminescence night paddles, Florida
manatees, Baja whales and more!
I am thankful for the amazing gifts of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales are still around as well as all the other wonders of the bay. Yesterday, we saw a young male elephant seal “bottling”, a resting position at the surface (not pictured).
At first glance from a distance the pointy proboscis had the appearance of a dorsal fin and not that of a cetacean. As we approached, we could then hear the “dorsal fin” breathing and realized it was a pinniped. Elephant Seal sightings from our kayaks are rare but the whales these days are not!
As we left the harbor, we saw the scarred nose of a recently mated female otter as well as great views of buffleheads…what a day!
Once again, “pinheads” what the local fisherman call immature anchovies, have moved close into the Bay attracting an array of predators from brown pelicans to humpback whales.
We thought that perhaps the whales were on their way to the coast of Mainland Mexico where they will give birth and care for their calves before making the journey back to our coast to feed. With these tasty anchovies still around, so are the whales. Enjoy the frenzy while it lasts! http://www.bluewaterventures.org.
Encounter with a Baby Whale
There are just a few places in the world where in water encounters with whales are permitted and regulated. In a nation where humpback whales were virtually decimated by a whaling industry just decades ago, their population is slowly recovering. Supporting a local economy through regulated whale swims is helping to preserve a fragile population of whales that spend ‘their winter” in the archipelago kingdom of Tonga.
As with all of our encounters, this young and very playful whale initiated the contact with us. It happened repeatedly for well over an hour. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the mother would appear out of the deep blue and escort her baby away. We would simply wait and within a few minutes the mother would drop the baby off for more interaction.
We were brought to tears on several occasions, so moved by the experience. Thanks to a wonderful scouting team, the kind people of Tonga and thank you Mama Whales !
Monterey Bay is making national if not international news once again. An array of wildlife from seabirds to humpback whales are feasting on anchovies which are densely packed into our near shore waters. Try a day trip out to Moss Landing State Beach and watch this incredible show from the jetties. Better yet, join Sanctuary Cruises Whale Watching based in Moss Landing where the “action” currently is. Its impossible to predict where an 80,000 pound marine mammal may choose to feed on a given day, but the crew aboard Sanctuary WILL find the whales.
Last night after reviewing the current marine conditions, I kayaked out and tucked up alongside Sanctuary Cruises to observe an incredible display of behavior. I would not recommend this for inexperienced paddlers. The whales may change direction and approach your vessel. Sometimes they are curious and gain a better perspective of their surroundings by “spyhopping” or raising their head out of the water for a better look. When kayaking, be prepared to deal with surf launching/landing, tides, currents, wind and swell. Moss Landing is notorious for fog banks to roll in abruptly. The best show is from land or aboard Sanctuary Cruises.
On Nov. 1st and 2nd, Blue Water Ventures is offering a bioluminescence paddle into Elkhorn Slough, the calm wetlands adjacent to the Monterey Bay whale hot spot.Hopefully, the whales will still be around and we will observe from land before paddling into the glowing water. For details go to: http://www.bluewaterventures.org.