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RE: [CALBIRDS] Not birds - sorry. Sperm Whales!!

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  • 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 1 of 2 , May 3, 2011
      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.


      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!!


      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

      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


      Half Moon Bay, California

      Field Guides - Birding Tours Worldwide


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