Report on ACS Whale Watch Cruise Sept. 26, 2004
by Esta Lee Albright
ACS Monterey Bay trip sees summer whales
Thanks, Monterey Bay Whale Watch!
We left the dock at 9 a.m., ACS part of two boatloads
of whale watchers on the regular 4-to-5-hour summer cruise of Monterey
Bay Whale Watch. We were in dense fog. Only about 20 feet of water
was visible on either side of the boat. It was surreal. It was like
being in a sci fi movie, suspended in time and space. We traveled like
that for 1 1/2 hours. Out over the submarine canyon, we on Sea Wolf
II, Richard Ternullo, captain, approached the second boat, Pt Sur Clipper,
Danny Frank, captain, as those passengers tried to see humpback whales
spotted somewhere there. The fog began to thin. There were random rays
of sun. Some of the rays found black backs and white splashes, glimmering
off them as the whales sounded. Suddenly the fog disappeared and there
were spouts scattered over a mile or so in all directions. About 15
humpbacks! We watched a trio dash around in any direction, to the boat
and under the boat, perhaps chasing little schools of fish. One had
a stiff silver antenna sticking up in front of the dorsal fin. Our captain,
Richard Ternullo (past president of ACSMB), called out, "That's one
of Bruce Mate's satellite tags!"
It took all of us on the top deck, including Richard, Jerry Loomis,
Sally Eastham, and Peggy Stap, and every one of the passengers, to keep
track of this whale so that Peggy could take photos. Richard called
Bruce Mate in Oregon (ah, the convenience of cell phones!) to be sure
what photos he wanted and learned the tag is expected to stay on the
whale 5 to 8 months. We should be able to know where that whale goes
to the tropics this winter. Bruce was happy with our news -- he has
worked years to develop a tag that will stay on the whale without harming
After long long looks at the humpbacks, we headed toward Moss Landing.
A pod of killer whales had been reported near there, but they had disappeared
before we came close and were not sighted again. A dead humpback was
reported but we were happy to watch dolphins instead. Richard estimated
300 Risso's dolphins, 300 Northern Right Whale dolphins, and 100 Pacific
white-sided dolphins. A few of us spotted one Dall's porpoise before
that, but it was shy and we saw only its characteristic "rooster tail"
splash as it left. The "lags" and the "lissos" played around the boat
while the Risso's swam alongside for a look. It was a good dolphin show.
Three species of dolphin around the boat after enjoying humpback antics!
That's a trip on Monterey Bay!
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Last updated May 28, 2004.