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Not birds - sorry. Sperm Whales!!

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  • Alvaro Jaramillo
    Folks, This is absolutely the most off the wall sighting I have ever had, or close to it at least. Today a group of 4 - 5 Sperm Whales..yes Sperm Whales!!!
    Message 1 of 2 , May 2, 2011
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      Folks,



      This is absolutely the most off the wall sighting I have ever had, or
      close to it at least. Today a group of 4 - 5 Sperm Whales..yes Sperm
      Whales!!! Were just offshore in Half Moon Bay. I was walking my dog and
      noticed some blows off to the south and assumed Grey Whales which I have
      been seeing for the last couple of weeks. As they got closer something
      seemed off, so I started looking at them to confirm that perhaps they were
      the first Humpbacks of the season.but no, that was not it either. I was
      looking hard and then it all hit - crap these are sperm whales! For one the
      blow was really explosive, not mellow like a Humpback, but forceful and
      intense and it went off at an angle to the side. I could see that the bodies
      were black and the dorsal area was just long and flat, with this funny low
      nub of a dorsal fin, well it wasn't a fin at all, just a funny nub where the
      tail stock started. I watched and watched them come up and go down for about
      5 minutes wondering if I was going crazy and they went far enough north that
      they got into the sun glare. There was a bench there so I sat and waited
      trying to talk myself out of what I was seeing. About ten minutes later they
      moved far enough to the north that they were visible in good light again and
      I could confirm all the marks. They also had a curious nature of blowing and
      almost immediately showing the entire flat dorsal area to the "fin" it
      wasn't like the blow happened and then there was a roll of a curved back and
      a fin appeared; it was all at the same time with a very flat back. On one at
      this point I saw it move the tailstock far enough up that I could seen knubs
      like "knuckles" on the tail stock, like in a grey whale (but these guys were
      big and black). Then the absolutely defining moment, one of them brought the
      head out enough to see the classic "squared off" forehead of a Sperm Whale.
      I still cannot believe that these animals were so close to shore, but they
      were, and of course I did not have my camera with me. But I had good looks
      and about 15 - 20 minutes of looking at them.

      There were a minimum of four animals, perhaps five. Two of them were
      really big, and there was a calf that came up right next to what I assume
      was a female; I saw the mom and calf several times and they always surfaced
      nearly simultaneously, and very close to each other. There was a time I saw
      two big ones up at the same time.so that adds up to four. But in watching
      the pattern of surfaces, I think there was at least another single animal.
      These guys were close!! Very close to shore, they were right inside Half
      Moon bay on the inside of the navigation bouy, so I could get pretty good
      looks at them. I doubt they were even 700meters out, but its hard to
      estimate.



      Sorry to fill this list with a whale sighting, but I know there are lots of
      whale enthusiasts out there and frankly I did not know where else to post
      this request. Does anyone recall a Sperm Whale sighting from shore in
      California? I have yet to see one on a pelagic in this state, so this was
      absolutely incredible. I have seen Sperm Whales before in the Caribbean
      though. Any info on coastal sightings welcome. Also, anyone to the north of
      here - be on the lookout!!



      Good sightings!



      Alvaro Jaramillo

      chucao@...

      Half Moon Bay, California



      Field Guides - Birding Tours Worldwide

      www.fieldguides.com





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Rich Stallcup
      THANKS AL, for that amazing report. One time (JUNE 1986) I scoped six Sperm Whales from the Point Reyes Lighthouse observation deck. They were plowing SSW
      Message 2 of 2 , May 3, 2011
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        THANKS AL, for that amazing report.

        One time (JUNE 1986) I scoped six Sperm Whales from the
        Point Reyes Lighthouse observation deck. They were plowing
        SSW towards Southeast Farallon.

        After over 200 pelagic trips off California I have only seen one
        Sperm whale at sea. That was an individual that herded with Humpbacks for
        several weeks (or months) just west of the Farallons but still
        above the Continental Shelf.

        RICH

        From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Alvaro Jaramillo
        Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 9:49 PM
        To: 'Calbirds'; 'pen-bird birds'
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Not birds - sorry. Sperm Whales!!



        Folks,

        This is absolutely the most off the wall sighting I have ever had, or
        close to it at least. Today a group of 4 - 5 Sperm Whales..yes Sperm
        Whales!!! Were just offshore in Half Moon Bay. I was walking my dog and
        noticed some blows off to the south and assumed Grey Whales which I have
        been seeing for the last couple of weeks. As they got closer something
        seemed off, so I started looking at them to confirm that perhaps they were
        the first Humpbacks of the season.but no, that was not it either. I was
        looking hard and then it all hit - crap these are sperm whales! For one the
        blow was really explosive, not mellow like a Humpback, but forceful and
        intense and it went off at an angle to the side. I could see that the bodies
        were black and the dorsal area was just long and flat, with this funny low
        nub of a dorsal fin, well it wasn't a fin at all, just a funny nub where the
        tail stock started. I watched and watched them come up and go down for about
        5 minutes wondering if I was going crazy and they went far enough north that
        they got into the sun glare. There was a bench there so I sat and waited
        trying to talk myself out of what I was seeing. About ten minutes later they
        moved far enough to the north that they were visible in good light again and
        I could confirm all the marks. They also had a curious nature of blowing and
        almost immediately showing the entire flat dorsal area to the "fin" it
        wasn't like the blow happened and then there was a roll of a curved back and
        a fin appeared; it was all at the same time with a very flat back. On one at
        this point I saw it move the tailstock far enough up that I could seen knubs
        like "knuckles" on the tail stock, like in a grey whale (but these guys were
        big and black). Then the absolutely defining moment, one of them brought the
        head out enough to see the classic "squared off" forehead of a Sperm Whale.
        I still cannot believe that these animals were so close to shore, but they
        were, and of course I did not have my camera with me. But I had good looks
        and about 15 - 20 minutes of looking at them.

        There were a minimum of four animals, perhaps five. Two of them were
        really big, and there was a calf that came up right next to what I assume
        was a female; I saw the mom and calf several times and they always surfaced
        nearly simultaneously, and very close to each other. There was a time I saw
        two big ones up at the same time.so that adds up to four. But in watching
        the pattern of surfaces, I think there was at least another single animal.
        These guys were close!! Very close to shore, they were right inside Half
        Moon bay on the inside of the navigation bouy, so I could get pretty good
        looks at them. I doubt they were even 700meters out, but its hard to
        estimate.

        Sorry to fill this list with a whale sighting, but I know there are lots of
        whale enthusiasts out there and frankly I did not know where else to post
        this request. Does anyone recall a Sperm Whale sighting from shore in
        California? I have yet to see one on a pelagic in this state, so this was
        absolutely incredible. I have seen Sperm Whales before in the Caribbean
        though. Any info on coastal sightings welcome. Also, anyone to the north of
        here - be on the lookout!!

        Good sightings!

        Alvaro Jaramillo

        chucao@...<mailto:chucao%40coastside.net>

        Half Moon Bay, California

        Field Guides - Birding Tours Worldwide

        www.fieldguides.com

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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