Rain, Drizzle and Gray Whales

Low tide terrace exposing the steep slope (scarp) from recent storms. Cloudy skies and low marine fog layer.

14 North 0 south 8 Sightings 7.5 hrs

Cloudy with limited visibility, rain and drizzle at times, but that did not stop the whales from migrating. One thin whale with sunken cervical neck area traveled through with a buddy. Sighting #5, a pair, one BREACHED just once in a back flop style but not captured on camera. Bottlenose Dolphins were abundant today heading both north and south. One whales fluke was edged in orange lice. Sighting #7 included four whales observed feeding in the surf, spy hopping, sharking, rolling and head lifting in alternating patterns. Th last sighting slowly traveling through after a very cloudy sunset.

February Total: 100 North Bound Gray Whales

Thin gray whale with sunken cervical neck areas, the right eye just above water and another gray whale fluke tip poking out to the right.
Four whales in this photo displaying feeding behavior, 2 sets of footprints, bubble blast, fluke tip, pectoral fin.
Fluke in foreground with a bubble blast forming in the background.

11 North Bound Gray Whales

Spyhopping Gray Whale to the right in this photo with Santa Catalina Island in the background.

11 North bound 0 South bound

The full moon brought a spring high tide and a spyhopping gray whale in close to shore. A dolphin displayed tail lobbing behavior. Eight whale sightings included: 11 whales, 1 harbor seal, 1 sandpiper, half a dozen harbor dolphins, a handful of sea gulls, a trio of pelicans and cormorants. One pair of whales traveled through with frequent alternating blows. One whale displayed feeding behavior in the surf as is made its way through the transect. Another whale seemed to be having a spa day, resting in the murky tide with flippers up, alternating with belly rubbing along the bottom with simultaneous head lifts and fluke lifts.

Two gray whales on the northern migration.
Gray whale head to tail lift with partial fluke above water.
Sandpiper hunting as the tide goes out.
Gray whale flippers up, back floating.
Dolphin lob tailing

Blue Skies Gray Whales

Looking south across the Santa Monica Bay at snowcapped Mt Baldy in the distance with giant coreopsis in near full bloom.

5 North Bound Gray Whales 0 South Bound

The skies were bright blue with large white cumulus clouds moving south. The cold N NW wind was strong and gusty at 25 +mph, nearing 7 on the Beaufort Wind Scale. Despite the rough choppy ocean, 5 gray whales were spotted in 5 sightings over three and half hours. The whales were all within 200 yds of shore and traveling at a steady pace. A few bubble blasts but not much milling today. The water was murky after the recent rain and with foam along the tide line. The gusty wind and blowing sand made it hard to track the northbound whales past the transect.

Snow on Mt Badly!

February 6th, 2019 2 Northbound 3 South Bound 1 calf 3.5hrs

After four days of heavy rain and low temperatures today’s clear sky revealed SNOW covering the San Gabriels Mountain with a view of Mt Baldy seen across the Santa Monica Bay while tracking the 1st sighted south bound cow/calf pair of the season! In four sightings today there were 5 whales including one southbound calf. At sunset the sky south lit up a beautiful shade of pink.

Muddy Debris Fills Surf with Storm Runoff

5 North bound 0 South bound 3.5hrs

The rain came down heavy for 3.5 days causing mud slides along the Pacific Coast Highway. The rain also filled local creeks creating rivers of mud that swept debris from the Woosley fire burned hillsides. The debris flow coming from miles away ending at the ocean. The surf was muddy in areas up to 300 yards out from shore. The swash line was filled with plastic bottle caps, broken plastic toys, pipes and general trash. Erosion from the storm surge was evident at the rock climbing wall. Standard*** Rain Advisory in effect for public safety issued by the LA Department of Public Health. The whales however continue to migrate south and north despite deplorable ocean conditions. Today the whales kept to the outside of the muddiest layers as evidenced by the photos below.

***From the LA Department of Public Health:

Ocean Water Quality Rain Advisory A rain advisory is issued when there is significant rainfall that may cause bacteria levels in ocean waters to increase. Bacteria levels can increase significantly during and after rainstorms, as contaminants within the runoff enters the ocean. Bacteria levels may remain elevated up to 3 days depending upon the intensity of the rain and the volume of runoff. Elevated bacteria levels in ocean water may cause illness, especially in children and the elderly. The Department of Public Health recommends that beach users avoid contact with ocean water for a period of 3 days after significant rainfall, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks and rivers.