Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Whale watching in Monterey, CA

I have been whale watching in Hawaii numerous times, but had never done this here in California until a couple of weeks ago. A friend of mine told me about the Monterey Whale Watching company, I thought that this would be a cool offsite for my employees. So we made plans to take the day off and head down to Monterey, CA for whale watching and lunch.

As soon as we parked, I could hearing the barking from seals. I walked over towards the water and saw a whole bunch of them hanging out on a pier.

Using the Canon 1DX, I took this wide shot, since I really liked the bright blue building at the top of the frame with the seals at the bottom.

Since we arrived early, and our whale watching tour did not leave until 10am, I walked along the pier and put on my 100-400mm lens to get some close shots of the seals..

This guy was hanging out above all the others. Getting up onto that 2x4 must have been a challenge.

This was one crowded platform...

And then it was time to push off for our 3 hour tour.

As we headed out to find whales, we saw a bunch of dolphins (my favorite animal). Even though they were out in the distance, I still shot some photos. I like the way this photo has all ocean and mountains, with just the one dorsal fin.

After motoring out for 45 minutes, we were lucky enough to find some Orcas. I have never seen these in the wild, and did not even know that we had them off the coast of Northern California.

This was a pod of 5 whales who were on the hunt for some food.

They are beautiful animals, especially the babies.

The markings on the Orcas are very distinct.

It was hard to track these whales, since they move so quickly. We would see the massive dorsal fins protruding from the surface of the ocean, motor towards them, and then they would dive for 5-8 minutes and come back up more than 1/2 mile away. Then we would try to catch up to them again. We did for 3 or 4 times and then moved on.

We had to get far away from the Orcas to find other types of whales, since Orcas are the one mammal that preys on other whales and dolphins. The others try to stay clear of the Killer Whales.

After cruising along for another 30 minutes, we came upon some Grey Whales.

Grey whales do not come up high out of the water like Humpback or Orcas, but when they arch their backs, and start a deeper dive, they do expose their tales.

We had completed our 3 hour whale watching tour, and were heading back into port, when I saw this speed boat passing us up. I had already switched lenses to the Canon 28-300mm. Remembering a recent challenge from my good friend, and nautical photographer extraordinaire, Onne van der Wal, I decided to try shooting this at 1/15 sec. I quickly roled my aperture to f/32 and panned along with the other boat. Not easy, since both boats were bouncing around so much, but it did yield this cool shot.

And as we made our way back into the harbor, I grabbed this shot of all the seals on the rocks and playing in the water.

I laughed when I saw this one seal sunning himself on this buoy.

This is the last shot of this trip. As we passed by this fishing boat, I was captivated by all the colors. I quickly framed this shot in portrait mode.

All in all, a very fun day of watching and shooting. If you find yourself near the ocean, give this a try. It is truly amazing to see how much is going out there in that vast ocean around us.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.


Anonymous said...

Looks like great fun. I would love to see some Killer Whales in the wild! We don't get too many of the coast of Brisbane, Australia. Love the shots.

Denise said...

Hi Jeff

Wonderful shots!

We just came back to Australia after 8 weeks in the States.
We went to Monterey two years ago and loved it, so I was quite envious when I read this post. Thank you for the memories.