November 20, 2018 at 4:05 pm (Birds - California, California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography)

Humpback whale diving. Notice the barnacles and what looks like kelp growing on the tail!

My friend from Maine and I went on a whale watch tour with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, Nov. 13. We saw several humpback whales and a pod of orcas (killer whales.)

A closer view

Although I lived in Tacoma, Washington for 18 years, I had never seen orcas. So this was a new experience for me.

Baby orca

There was a small baby in the group, which I got a somewhat decent photograph of.

Four adult orcas and one baby.

At one point a humpback whale breached about a half mile away. It was an amazing sight as it jumped high in the air and came down with a splash. Too far away to photograph, though. I would have loved to seen it closer.

This was a very large orca.
Sometimes there are several boats when whales are spotted. The word gets out.
This is the best view I got of the baby with what I think is its mom.

We also saw quite a few Risso’s dolphins.

“Like a battered boxer, the bulky, blunt-headed Risso’s dolphin bears lots of scars. Its Latin species name griseus refers to the skin’s ghostly gray-white mottling—an effect enhanced with age by extensive scarring made by the teeth of its own kind or by the beaks and tentacles of squid, its preferred prey.” — Monterey Bay Aquarium

Another humpback tail during a dive

We saw a few good birds, too.

Common Murre in nonbreeding plumage
Brandt’s cormorant
California sea lions at the harbor entrance. Their barking can be heard from quite a distance.

The morning was hazy in part from the Camp Wildfire north of Sacramento. It provided soft light, which helped with detail. It also gave a bit of a mood to the landscape.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, Pacific Grove, seen from Monterey Bay.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com


  1. Jet Eliot said,

    Thanks so very much, Cindy, for taking us with you on this exhilarating trip. Enjoyed seeing the orcas, such a joy to see these; and I never tire of humpbacks, either. Risso’s are special to see too. You got pretty close to these whales, that is so much fun, my guess is you probably heard one or two of the whales taking a breath. Monterey Bay is excellent for marine mammal spotting. Really great birds too. Hard to get close to a Rhino Auklet, and a common murre is fantastic to spot. Loved your photos, as always, especially seeing the barnacles on the tail. That other specimen on the tail really does look like kelp, which I never would’ve guessed. Fantastic trip!

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Hi Jet – yes the barnacles and kelp are a surprise. When I volunteered at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, if a sea turtle had a lot of barnacles and other hitchhikers, it generally meant the turtle wasn’t doing well. The weight of the barnacles would slow it down even more. I hope it doesn’t have the same meaning for the whales.

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