Lunge Feeding Humpbacks

B11I8352.jpgThis seems to be a really good year for sea life.  Having had a really successful trip out watching whales from Monterey Bay, the whales have decided to come closer.  There have been sightings of humpbacks inside San Francisco Bay this year.  More recently, my friend Roger has seen them feeding on the coast just south of the city.  I joined him for a while.  We could see a number of the humpbacks lunge feeding just off the beach.  They were a little far from us but we still had a good view.

B11I8389.jpgThe whales start below the surface and surge upwards with their mouths open grabbing a mouth full of water and fish.  They then spot out the water and eat the remnants.  We found that the seagulls were the guide to where the whales would be next.  They would mill around, awaiting the next feeding, hoping to get a spare fish in the process.  As they spotted the whale coming to the surface, they would all converge and this would be the guide to where the whale would be next.  Sometimes, the whale was just coming up for breath so you never knew which it would be.  When there is only one whale, it tends to alternate although not always.  With more than one, it is a guess.

AE7I0750.jpgA few days later, I was out with Nancy and we decided to see if there was any activity.  The previous spot was not showing any sign of whales inshore.   A couple of spouts further out but nothing feeding in the shallows.  Instead we tried Pacifica where they sometimes come in near the pier.  Again, nothing.  We were just starting to drive off when I saw what appeared to be a spout inshore.  I parked up and wandered over to see if there was anything.  Nancy stayed in the car but knew something was up when she saw me turn and run back to the car.  A whale was in the surf feeding.

AE7I0588.jpgWe moved along the beach watching the whale burst to the surface and grab mouthfuls of water and fish.  A lot of people quickly gathered to watch the feeding.  The birds were still the clue but now we were down on the level of the waves so sometimes things got obscured by the water.  Even so, we were right there to see what was going on.  Soon the whale appeared to be full and moved offshore.  It was still swimming around near the pier when we headed off.  I don’t know whether this was a regular feature or we got lucky but it was very cool to watch.

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