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2019-2020 Winter Whale Watching Report

DateMorning CruiseAfternoon CruiseNotes
1/15/2010 Gray Whales3 Gray Whales, 20 Common Dolphins, 50 Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: A beautiful, sunny day with calm conditions on the water. Guests from Germany, China and across the U.S. joined us on the cruise. We spotted 8 adult Gray Whales traveling south along with a mother-calf pair. What a wonderful morning!

Afternoon Cruise: We spotted a pair of Gray Whales traveling together with a third whale close by. We also watched some feeding activity of a mixed group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Common Dolphins.
1/14/203 Gray Whales, 4 Common Dolphins8 Gray Whales, 5 Common Dolphins, 5 Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: We left the dock on a beautiful January morning. Passengers joined us from Chile, Egypt, Korea, India, Mexico and across the US. We were all thrilled to watch 3 Gray Whales that were on the southbound migration along with a few Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: Another stellar afternoon on the ocean. We had up to 8 Gray Whales spotted around the boat along with a smattering on Pacific White-sided and Common Dolphins.
1/13/202 Gray Whales, 500+ Common Dolphins6 Gray Whales, 150+ Common Dolphins, 50+ Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: It was a clear day with calm seas. We encountered a large herd of about 500 Common Dolphins that were bowriding and remained near the Adventure Hornblower for a while. We also spotted 3 separate whale spouts and were able to watch 2 subadult Gray Whales up close.

Afternoon Cruise: It was a glorious afternoon on the water. We spotted 6 Gray Whales, all traveling south. We also saw about 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins and 150 Common Dolphins. We finished our cruise with a spectacular sunset.
1/12/202 Gray Whales, 50+ Common Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 500+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: We spotted 2 Gray Whales and also enjoyed watching a herd of Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: We spotted a pair of Gray Whales just outside of the kelpline. We also spotted a large herd of Common Dolphins.
1/11/203 Gray Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins20 Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: Fabulous day with blue skies and calm seas. Plenty of wildlife. We were able to watch a Gray Whale juvenile fluking multiple times just outside of the kelp beds. Luckily, not long after we came upon 2 separate adult Gray Whales, also on the side of that fluke! Impressive. A pod of Common Dolphins ,100 strong, entertained us bow riding and then later a small pod of Pacific White Sides. Let's not forget the pelicans, cormorants and gulls. What a Day!

Afternoon Cruise: While we didn’t see any Gray Whales, we did see a surprise smattering of a pod of 20 Pacific White Sides with 6 sea lions looking as if a feeding activity was going on. They were in a forward motion and not wanting to play or curious of our boat. This leading to the assumption there was some food out there. There was a community of 50 gulls floating but no diving or fishing behavior.
1/10/205 Gray Whales, 50+ Common Dolphins3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise:
It was a clear crisp morning. After leaving the harbor we came upon a cow-calf pair of Gray Whales. Then we saw three other Gray Whales heading south. One surfaced close to the boat. We could hear the strong blow and then the whales fluked. As we headed to the bay, we encountered a pod of about 50 Common Dolphins feeding on a bait ball.

Afternoon Cruise:
The Hornblower Adventure sailed out of San Diego Bay under clear skies and a slight wind condition. Captain Eric noted to guests that one of the largest nuclear submarines was coming into its port along with 3 Navy escorts and 3 tugs that were assisting with the exchange of crew and also guests could see that supplies were being carried on to the sub. Guests on board were in awe as this was an opportunity to see a submarine up close and conducting its business. The Adventure sailed southward towards the Los Coronados Islands, and we were lucky to see our first Pacific Eastern Gray Whale who was also heading to its pathway between the Middle and North Los Coronados Islands. We observed the whale spouting an estimated 13 times and it seemed to continue its journey close to the surface with no fluking occurring. We noted from the ship that this was an older whale because of the many barnacles that could be seen on its body which indicated that it had been in the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. As we began our journey back to the bay, we were very lucky to see 2 adult Gray whales. Spouts were heard loudly and fluking was seen by all on board as the whales continued their steady journey south. A beautiful day in our waters off Point Loma and to see the amazing day end with a stunning sunset as we head back to port.
1/9/206 Common Dolphinsn/aMorning Cruise:
We started with happy passengers from Denmark, Germany, Wisconsin, Utah, and Michigan. Guests enjoyed being on the ocean on a blustery day. Six Common Dolphins were seen.

Afternoon Cruise:
A very windy day…. Once leaving the bay, the captain decided to turn around and head back to the dock due to high sea swells. No sightings of whales or dolphins; just sea lions in the bay.
1/8/203 Gray Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins4 Gray Whales, 500+ Common Dolphins, 50+ Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: A beautiful day in the water off San Diego. We watched a mother-calf pair of Gray Whales that were escorted by a dolphin. Several times the calf was on its mom's back when it surfaced. We were able to watch the pair for a long time. A second whale was observed off Ocean Beach. We also spotted a scattering of Pacific White-sided Dolphins throughout the morning.

Afternoon Cruise: An exciting afternoon on the water. We spotted over 500 Common Dolphins and 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins. We also watched a juvenile Gray Whale, and later, 3 adults traveling south together.
1/7/206 Gray Whales, 25 Common Dolphins, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins4 Gray Whales (1 cow-calf pair), 25 Common Dolphins, 25 Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: Throughout the beautiful, sunny morning, there were sightings of six gray whales traveling south. Some fluked, and even spy hopped. Also, common dolphins and Pacific white sided dolphins were sighted. Lovely!

Afternoon Cruise: Another delightful afternoon for whale watching - clear, calm waters, sun, and a wide variety of marine mammals. First there were a few dolphins, then a gray whale mother with baby calf. The Adventure Hornblower followed the pair staying a safe distance. The mother protectively kept the calf close by, but neither whale had big blows. The next sighting was a raft of about a dozen sea lions. Then common dolphins, Pacific white sided dolphins, one adult gray whale, and another gray. Very nice afternoon. Visitors were from England, Germany, China, Canada, and all over the U.S.
1/6/203 Gray Whales, 150 Common Dolphins2 Gray Whales, 30+ Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: A beautiful day on the ocean. We almost immediately found a pod of about 25 Common Dolphins and, just a little farther offshore, a single Gray Whale. We then headed north looking for more whales and spotted two other pods of about 100 Common Dolphins and 25 Common Dolphins. As we headed south, we spotted 2 more Gray Whales.

Afternoon Cruise: A gorgeous afternoon on the water. We spotted about 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins and in the late afternoon two juvenile Gray Whales off the kelp bed. One of the whales fluked, but the highlight was when one of the whales popped its head out of the water and showed us its baleen!
1/5/20n/a2 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Whale watching cruise cancelled

Afternoon Cruise: A lovely afternoon of Whale Watching with great views of 2 migrating Gray Whales.
1/4/202 Fin Whales, 50 Common Dolphins5 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: We enjoyed a beautiful day on the water watching 2 Fin Whales and about 50 Common Dolphins. We had international visitors from Romania, India, and the Netherlands.

Afternoon Cruise: Wow!!! What an absolutely incredible whale watching cruise on the Hornblower Adventure today. Captain Rick cruised out of the San Diego Bay in search of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale who are currently migrating south to the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico to give birth to their calves. Under slightly cloudy skies we headed westward and within 2 miles out we encounter 1 adult Gray Whale. Guests on board were so excited and thrilled to see this beautiful whale in our waters so quickly. All so enjoyed hearing and seeing this whale's beautiful heart shaped spout. Oohhs!! and Aawws!! from all aboard. After spending some time Captain Rick decided to head further north in search of a couple of Fin whales that were also in our waters, however they seem to elude us. Along the way, we did see some birds feeding on a bait ball, mostly like sardines or anchovies. As we headed north we heard that a couple of Grays were not far from us and we went to observe. How exciting to see 2 adults and 1 juvenile heading south. Lots of spouts and tail flukes for all to see!! As our time seemed to become short we began our journey back to San Diego Bay. To our surprised we sighted a couple of more spouts about 3/4 quarters a mile away, and suddenly, within 500 yards from the boat, there was a Gray spouting and diving that was also traveling south. What an incredible day it was aboard the Hornblower Adventure!
1/3/202 Gray Whales, 1 Pygmy Sperm Whale, 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins3 Gray Whales, 40 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.Morning Cruise: A beautiful morning on the water. We had a rare sighting of a pygmy or dwarf sperm whale early in our cruise. We also encountered two migrating Gray Whales. We were fortunate to also encounter 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins. What a wonderful day!

Afternoon Cruise: We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and were joined with guests from Utah, Japan, Russia and the Midwest. We spotted 3 Gray Whales traveling together. The whales engaged in some courtship behavior. We also spotted 40-50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.
1/2/202 Gray Whalesno whale sightingsMorning Cruise: We enjoyed an active morning of sightings with a group of Gray Whales exhibiting courtship behaviors along with views of several groups of Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: Although we searched, we found no whales or dolphins during our cruise.
1/1/201 Gray Whalen/aBeing in the bay and ocean is a terrific way to start the New Year! Sunny skies and calm seas were enjoyed by all. We found a southbound juvenile Gray Whale that changed direction a couple of times and showed its flukes before deep dives. Looking forward to more days of whale watching!

Afternoon Cruise cancelled.
12/31/192 Gray Whales3 Gray Whales, 100+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Guests from Mexico City and all over the U.S. joined us onboard for a clear, beautiful day with excellent conditions for whale sightings. We spotted a pair of Gray Whales that dove for up to 8 minutes. One of the whales fluked just before a longer dive. We also spotted California sea lion on a navigation buoy.

Afternoon Cruise: Guests from Germany, Austria, Singapore, Italy and all over the U.S. joined us to watch whales. We were lucky to have sightings almost the entire trip including sightings of 3 Gray Whales and 100+ Common Dolphins all around the boat.
12/30/1950 Common Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 25 Common Dolphins, 5 Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise:
We spotted about 50 Common Dolphins, but no baleen whales.

Afternoon Cruise:
Captain Eric guided the Adventure Hornblower out of the bay under a bit of cloudy skies, slight wind and headed southward towards the Los Coronado Islands. The captain had heard information about a couple of Humpbacks that were headed south at the end of the AM cruise so the captain decided to see if we could possibly relocate them within a few miles out of the bay. We could see a couple of spouts in the distance, however, Captain Eric, was bound to rules of the International Waters boundary with Mexico. So we continued our journey further northward in search of the Gray Whales who migrate along our coastline. We did encounter a small pod of 25 Long-beaked Common Dolphins that guests were very excited to see bow riding. As we continued our cruise a slight wind picked up and some white caps were visible which made it a bit difficult for sightings. The Adventure cruised out to the 9 mile bank and still the whales eluded us. Upon return about 1 mile off of Point Loma we finally encountered 1 adult Gray Whale along with 5 Pacific White-sided Dolphins. All guests on board enjoyed the encounter and the beautiful sunset that was occurring. Lovely day it was to be on the water!!!!
12/29/193 Gray Whales3 Gray WhalesMorning Cruise: Beautiful sunny and calm day on the water. Early sightings of an adult gray whale headed southbound. Later, two separate sightings of frisky juvenile gray whales. Some Pacific white-sided dolphins came along side of our boat for excellent views.

Afternoon Cruise: Absolutely gorgeous day! Perfectly calm with hardly any wind. Saw at least 3 rather shy gray whales about 9 miles out. They showed just the very tops of their backs before doing their dives. They stayed down approximately 6 minutes/dive before resurfacing so we got to watch them do a series of three dives before they seemingly disappeared. One lone sea lion was playing in the water near the area where we first spotted these whales. We did manage to spot this small group of whales again on our way back to the harbor. This time they provided great views of blows as they surfaced.
12/28/1910 Pacific White-sided Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 1 Humpback WhaleMorning Cruise: Although we searched, no baleen whales were spotted this morning. We did see a small group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: The PM trip had mostly sunny skies with visibility all the way to tabletop in Mexico with clear views of the Coronado Islands. We were blessed with a great Humpback whale who was moving at about 6 knots according to Captain Richard. Being a Humpback he was sited near the boat and at a further distance throughout the cruise. We had some very close encounters of what appeared to be a Juvenal due to size with a clear view of his small dorsal fin. He arched every third breath with no flukes to be seen and was down for about 3.5 minutes before we saw another blow. Multiple blows were auditable from the boat! Along the way there were hundreds of Turns on the water that could have indicated why the Humpback was in the area possibly feeding or pursuing a snack. Towards the end of the trip we were able to see a grey whale in addition to the Humpback. We only spent a short time with the Grey whale but were able to see two cycles with flukes! All in all it was a beautiful day on the water.
12/27/191 Gray Whale22 Risso's DolphinsMorning Cruise: Beautiful sunny day, no clouds. Full vessel with estimated 280 guests on board the Hornblower Adventure. Encountered one juvenile gray whale. Observed Pacific White-Sided Dolphins and Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: The Adventure departed the dock with a very large group of passengers some from as far away as Italy, Germany, Japan, China, Taiwan, India and Australia. Captain Ernesto headed southward out of the San Diego Bay under slightly cloudy skies towards and decided to head west in search of the Pacific Eastern Gray Whale. We traveled diligently in search of the Grays but, they eluded us on this cruise. We were very fortunate to come across a pod of 22, which also included 6 juveniles, that were feeding on squid in our waters about 4 miles out from the coast of Point Loma area. Guests were very engaged with the sighting and were delighted to observe the behaviors of the Risso's which included, 48 breaches, tail slapping, spyhopping, partial mating behavior, and flipper slapping. Everyone was amazed to see that the Risso's took a few deep dives leaving a very distinct dolphin footprint on the water's surface. Many said that they were in awe of how the Risso's seem very synchronize as they swam next to each other. It was simply amazing for all to see this incredible dolphin today.
12/26/19n/an/aCruises cancelled due to high sea swells
12/25/19100+ Common Dolphins150+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Although the weather forecast rain, we enjoyed great weather today. Guests from India, china and across the US joined us today. We started off our trip with a rainbow just before boarding. Although we didn't see any whales, we came across a megapod of dolphins with lots of acrobatics and bowriding- lots of fun for our guests!

Afternoon Cruise: Guests from Germany, Mexico and Japan joined us as we searched for whales. While we didn't see any baleen whales, we spotted a herd of about 150 Common Dolphins.
12/24/19no sightingsn/aMorning Cruise: Passengers from around the US and lots of children joined us for the cruise. Although it was a mostly clear day with good viewing conditions, not whales or dolphins were spotted today.

Afternoon Cruise: Cruise cancelled due to rough sea conditions.
12/23/19no sightings20 Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: No whales or dolphins were spotted during this morning's cruise.

Afternoon Cruise: We encountered about 20 Common Dolphins during the cruise along with a dazzling rainbow.
12/22/19500+ Common Dolphins500+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: The seas were calm with great visibility. Diverse passengers from Europe, the Midwest, and Japan joined us on the cruise- all to experience the sea. Although we did not spot baleen whales, passengers were treated to a large pod of Common Dolphins, many who rode the bow with us. As we came near to shore, they clustered together and jumped in unison, pursuing the boat to bow ride.

Afternoon Cruise: Beautiful water today, with good visibility. There were tons of pelicans looking for fish on our way out. On our return journey, we saw a large pod of Common Dolphins feeding on bait fish below the surface. There were many shearwaters also flying over the dolphins. We enjoyed a great view with the afternoon sun! The dolphins were mixed with juveniles and adults. A great day on the water overall!
12/21/19800+ Common Dolphins500+ Common DolphinsMorning Cruise: Great weather today with lots of sun and gentle sea swells. While searching for whales, we spotted scattered California sea lions, a couple harbor seals, a couple of Common Dolphins and sea birds. Although we didn't spot any baleen whales, we encountered a large pod of Long-beaked Common Dolphins that rode the bow to the delight of all of our guests.

Afternoon Cruise: A gorgeous afternoon with calm glassy water. We again encountered a large herd of Long-beaked Common Dolphins that played around the boat. Many of the dolphins were feeding on baitfish along with hundreds of diving sea birds and some California Sea Lions mixed in the feeding group. What a beautiful way to spend the Winter Solstice!
12/20/191 Gray Whale, 6 Pacific White-sided Dolphins3 Gray Whales, 6 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 6 Bottlenose DolphinsMorning Cruise: We spotted a juvenile Gray Whale about 3 miles south of Pt. Loma. The whale swam slowly beneath the surface coming up to spout frequently. We were able to follow the whale for 15 minutes before returning back to the dock. We also saw 6 Pacific White-sided dolphins early in the trip.

Afternoon Cruise: During the afternoon trip we found 3 adult Gray Whales, 6 to 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins and 6 Bottlenose Dolphins that were in the bay. The whales were 6 miles south of Pt. Loma. Two whales were swimming together and the third was close-by. The whales stayed down 8 to 10 minutes between sightings, but we got spectacular views of spouts and tail flukes as the whales surfaced next to the boat six to eight times. The whales were so close you could even hear them breathe!
12/19/19n/a10+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 10+ Common Dolphins, 4 Bottlenose DolphinsMorning Cruise: Cancelled due to high sea swells

Afternoon Cruise: It was a chilly, clear day out on the beautiful Pacific! The ride was a bit rocky,but not for our first signting of 4 Bottlenose Dolphins in the bay. As we traveled north, we encountered approximately 10 each of Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Common Dolphins. Today just being under the sun and in the swells felt like a hug!
12/18/19n/an/aCruises cancelled due to high sea swells
12/17/191 Gray Whale, 1,000 Common Dolphins, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins550+ Common Dolphins, 50+ Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: It was a clear crisp morning as we left the harbor and watched the Navy interactive training one of their Bottlenose Dolphins. Soon after, Captain Rick spotted a spout in the distance. It was an Eastern Pacific Gray Whale heading south towards the lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. We followed the whale and guests aboard were able to watch it surface, blow and dive a number of times. The Gray whale fluke (tail) glistened in the sunlight as the Gray was headed down into the water for another dive. Lots of passengers were able to take great photos as the sea was relatively calm. We were also greeted by a very active and large (approximately 1,000) pod of Long-beaked Common Dolphins. What a delight to see them swimming under the water close to the ship. About 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins also swam by for a visit. It was an amazing trip-great weather, great sightings and great information given by the Captain Rick, First Mate Kaitylin and the Whale Naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Afternoon Cruise: The Hornblower Adventure sailed out of San Diego Bay under slightly cloudy skies southward toward the Los Coronados Islands. Captain Rick changed directions and begin our journey heading north along the 3 mile area along the coast of Point Loma. In the distance we could see Navy air drop training activity with helicopters perhaps dropping sonar devices into the water and the US Coast Guard stationed close by. As Captain Rick continued our northbound journey, we saw a lot of bird activity in the distance and a lot of splashing which indicated the dolphins were in the area. Captain Rick headed the Hornblower towards the active area and guests aboard were thrilled to see numerous (approximately 550) Long-beaked Common Dolphins hunting for their food. It looked to be herring and sardines that interested the Dolphins and birds. We also saw 2 pods of Pacific White-sided Dolphins (approximately 50) join the Commons in the eating frenzy. Many of the Dolphins decided that they wanted to bow ride the Hornblower which delighted the guests on board. There were a few juveniles that accompanied the pod with their mothers. Captain Rick decided to continue our journey in search of the Gray Whales. Unfortunately, the winds started to pick up and we could see a lot of white caps appearing which indicated that swells were coming towards us and the Gray Whales had eluded us. As we begin our journey back to the San Diego Bay, we did sight a lone sea lion who most likely had visited the bait ball area where the dolphins were feeding. Our journey end with an incredible sunset with colorful shades of orange, red, pink that definitely was a photographer's dream picture moment!!!
12/16/1920 Pacific White-sided Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 100+ Pacific White-sided DolphinsMorning Cruise: Although Gray Whales eluded us this morning, we did encounter a pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise: We departed under sunny skies and a gentle sea swell once we left the bay, sea life was scarce until we encountered a juvenile Gray Whale off of Ocean Beach that was headed north- unusual for this time of year. We watched the whale for about a half hour as it surfaced and even fluked once. As we headed back toward San Diego Bay, we came across a bait ball of small fish that were visible "boiling" just below the surface. Shortly after, we encountered lots of diving seabirds, a few California Sea Lions, and even a scattered pod of about 100+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins all feeding on the baitfish. Some of the dolphins briefly rode the bow and stern wake of the boat. We finished our cruise with a spectacular sunset with postcard views of the Downtown San Diego skyline!
12/15/19n/an/aCruises cancelled due to high sea swells
12/14/192 Humpback Whales, 3 Bottlenose Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 6 Common Dolphins, 6 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 2 Bottlenose DolphinsMorning Cruise: A beautiful first day of the season on the water with lots of sunshine and some sea swells. As we left the bay, a few whalers and guests spotted 3 Bottlenose Dolphins. The highlight of our morning, was a mother Humpback Whale with her newborn calf. It was such a treat to see such a young Humpback calf in Southern California waters since they are typically only seen much farther south!

Afternoon Cruise: The afternoon cruise was perfect! We had our first Gray Whale surface right beside the Adventure Hornblower and then right behind the boat. The whale even fluked several times! We also had Common Dolphins bowriding for a long time and spotted both Bottlenose Dolphins and California Sea Lions.

 
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