Whale Watching in Pacifica

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This is an archive of the "Current Information" section of HowToSeeTheWhales from 2023.

Current Information

In this section I will try to provide any current information that might be helpful. I strongly recommend reading the other sections first.

One of the best ways right now of knowing when/where the whales are is to follow the Pacifica Whalespotting Facebook group. This is a public group and is updated fairly regularly when people see whales (also feel free to add to the group by posting when/if you see a whale!). That group is: Pacifica Whalespotting. Also consider helping the researchers by Reporting your Sightings.

I've recently set up a new website and started a new blog. The blog covers all of the things I photograph, not just whales. But if you either enter "Whales" in the search box, or go to the following link, you'll see just the blog posts that are whale-related:

Chamberlin Nature Blog - Whales

Update September 30, 2023

There continues to be at least 3 Humpbacks hanging around the general Pacifica area, with regular sightings from the usual areas: The Pier, Mori Pt, Esplanade, Rockaway, Lindamar. Two of them were spending a fair bit of time in the pier area yesterday (9/29). A few photos I took of them are on my blog: Humpback Whales 9/29/23.

Update September 19, 2023

There have been 3-5 Humpbacks spending a lot of time in our little area recently. They've been pretty active, with quite a bit of lunge feeding, some fin slapping and occasional breaches. They've been spending a lot of their time in both the Pier/Mori area and Esplanade/Muscle Rock areas, with occasional jaunts down to Rockaway and Lindamar. There have been sightings every day, and often there are sightings all day long, though they do move from one hot spot to another.

Update September 16, 2023

It's been a while since I've made an update, in part because I've been busy but also because the whale activity died off for a while. They've typically still been around and seen intermittently, but not very regularly. Recently it seems the activity has increased a little bit. There have been sightings every few days. It seems there's at least 3 and possibly as many as 5 that are generally in the area. Yesterday (9/15) I managed to get a few shots of one breaching just off Sharp Park Beach, just south of the pier. I saw it at 2:15pm, but likely the same whale was seen earlier in the day at 9am on the north side of the pier and then right by the pier. You can see some of the photos at: my blog but here's one of the photos:

Update July 15, 2023

The whale activity has been great the last 4 days. There have been at least 5 Humpbacks coming very close to shore and close to the pier. They've been hanging around nearly the entire day. The past 2 days they've been mostly in the pier-to-Mori area, with occasional jaunts up around Esplanade and Mussel Rock. There have also been a significant number of birds hanging around catching the bait fish. Lots of pelicans, terns, gulls and two days ago a huge flock of what I believe were Sooty Shearwaters, but I need to take a closer look at my photos to be sure. Here's a shot I took from the pier looking back toward the beach: Humpback Whales near shore 7/14/23

Update July 2, 2023

The whale activity has generally died down a fair bit over the past few weeks, but there are still a few around. I saw a pair of Humpbacks today, which went right past the pier very close. They continued up toward Esplanade and were lunge feeding for a little while there. There have been other sightings of 1-2 whales here-and-there almost every day, though some days have gone without any sightings.

The good news is they're still around and still occasionally coming quite close. You just need a little more patience and may have to look around a bit more.

Update June 12, 2023

The whales have continued to generally "be around" for the past few weeks. Some days we see more of them (upwards of 12 at a time) and sometimes it's just a few here-and-there. Often they've been out fairly far, though their spouts are easily seen and the big splashes when they breach or tail slap. Occasionally several of them have come in pretty close to shore.

Pretty much all of the whales have been Humpbacks. I haven't seen or heard reports of any Grays around in the past few weeks, though the Marine Mammal Center reports there are still a few Grays inside the San Francisco Bay. A couple days ago I saw spouts much larger and farther out than the typical Humpback sightings. My guess based on size and distance is they were Blue Whales, but there's really no good way of knowing for sure. There have been comments/rumors about Orcas around Devil's Slide and Montara, but so far I haven't seen/heard any definite confirmations. There are definitely Orcas "around", and an unusually large group was sighted at the Farallones recently. There was also a confirmed sighting from a whale watching group near San Francisco. But they still seem to be elusive in the Pacifica area.

They have been in every area of Pacifica, from the Devil's Slide trail up to Mussel Rock. For a while they were predominantly in the mid-to north areas (roughly Mori Pt to Mussel Rock). The past few days they've seemed to be a bit more southerly, in the Linda Mar, Pedro Point and Devil's Slide area.

The good news is they're still around. But you may need to have some patience and do a little hunting and/or watching the whalespotting group to find and see them.

Update May 30, 2023

I haven't been providing more frequent updates, because Pacifica Whalespotting has been handling that pretty well. This is just a quick generally summary.

Starting May 21 the Humpbacks really started to move in to the area. Some days there have been a definite 12+ and likely more in the area at a time. At one point I saw 10 simultaneous spouts in one area. There have been more breaches and tail action than we typically get in this area. Much of the action has been in the general pier area, with a bit of action also around Mussel Rock as well as a few sightings around Linda Mar.

Around May 28, things quieted down a bit. They're still in the area and have been occasionally sighted, but fewer than the preceding week.

Update May 19, 2023

Sorry, it's been a while since I've updated the current information here. Moving forward, I've set up a blog on my new website. I will be updating that blog with my whale sightings. While that blog will also have a variety of other posts, you can see just the whale posts by using the search box on the blog, or by using this link which automatically searches just for "Whales":

Chamberlin Nature Blog - Whales

As a short recap, about 3-4 weeks ago we started getting some Gray Whale sightings. However we weren't seeing the same lingering and foraging/feeding behavior we saw last year. But there was a Mother and calf pair that seemed to be hanging around for at least 2 weeks. They were regularly seen in the Mori Pt/Pier/Esplanade/Mussel Rock areas, often very close to shore. I haven't seen them in the past 4 or 5 days, though someone did see a Gray Whale at Mori Pt 3 days ago (May 16). You can see a few photos I got in the blog: Gray Whales 4/29/23

I had my first Humpback sighting of the season May 11. I saw at least 4 and more likely 5 Humpbacks from the pier. They were moderately far out, but at least one came in somewhat close to the pier. I haven't seen them again since, though someone saw a Humpback from a long distance at Mussel Rock the following day (May 12). On the day I saw the Humpbacks, I also saw one or two Gray Whales. You can see some of the photos I took on my blog: Humpback and Gray Whales 5/11/23