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Encounters 2021

Encounter 01

Our first killer whale encounter of 2021 occurred with one of our favorite orcas, CA171B Fatfin! He is a very special whale that we frequently encounter in Monterey. We soon spotted CA21 and CA169 nearby. Fatfin started tail slapping next to the boat. Then the three whales quickly transitioned into travel mode and headed off together.

Encounter 02

Rare offshore (ecotype) killer whale sighting in Big Sur today! 
Tim Huntington (Webnectar photography) spotted over 20 of these rarely encountered orcas about a half mile off Big Sur.

Encounter 03

We had an amazing encounter today with CA171B "Fatfin," CA21, and CA169! We spent time with these whales earlier this month on January 2nd. CA21 and CA169, the two females, have been associated for several years, and CA171B has been seen with them for the past two years.

Encounter 04

Yesterday we got a report of orcas in the bay! We identified them as the CA202s, nicknamed the Smileys. They hunted several California sea lions and at one point brought a sea lion carcass to the boat! They ate all of the carcass except the intestines and lungs. 

Encounter 05

We have exciting news from our encounter on Sunday. We spent time with the CA140s and CA163 - Emma's group. 

Encounter 06

Research Biologist Colleen encountered the CA200s and the CA202s on board with Monterey Bay Whale Watch! 

Encounter 07

Absolutely amazing day today observing orcas for 9 hours! We saw 11 whales all together - first the CA140Bs, CA23A2, and the CA113s! We then received a report of a second group and IDed them as CA10 and some of the CA23s! The first group was traveling slowly for a lot of the day, but the best part was when they started resting and “cuddling” with each other in a “cuddle puddle!” The young ones were rolling around, lifting their heads out of the water, and rubbing against the adults - an amazing and intimate moment. 

Encounter 08

Amazing day yesterday! We had the CA140Bs, CA113s, and CA23A2 again, but this time socializing! They were breaching, spy hopping, tail throwing, rolling around, and coming up to the boat!

Encounter 09

There were at least 12 whales in the area last Tuesday! We first encountered the CA140Bs with CA23A2, and CA20, CA54, CA177, as well as  CA49C and CA49C1.  We then found CA137 and CA40 swimming together in an area near the first group, both of which seemed to be foraging! 

Encounter 10

We encountered the CA58s - a rather elusive group that we sometimes go years without seeing. However, last spring we saw them several times and now we have our first sighting of 2021!

Encounter 11

On Thursday, April 15th, we headed north and spent time with what appeared to be two groups of whales that stayed fairly close to each other, while intermittently dispersing and mixing: the CA39s, (including CA39, CA39C, CA39C1, a young calf who is most likely CA39C2, and CA39D), as well as CA26, CA36, CA35, and CA35A. 

Encounter 12

Though conditions weren’t ideal and the whales were being quite elusive, we spent the majority of the day on April 16th with the CA140Bs and CA23A2.

Encounter 13

We had an incredible day on April 17th with 19 identified killer whales! We spent time with the CA27s, CA10, the CA140Bs, and the CA23s. They were traveling slowly, so we got some great looks at these whales!

Encounter 14

April 18th was an incredible day, with several groups of killer whales in one general area. Meet the new CA51 calves! We are thrilled to confirm that both CA51 Star (head matriarch of "The Friendly Pod") and her eldest daughter, CA51A Aurora, both had calves since last season; they are just a few to several months old!

Encounter 15

On April 19th we had another exciting day filled with several different orca groups, many of them hunting Pacific white-sided dolphin! There was no visible evidence of a successful kill, but that might not have been the primary goal. The pursuit of these dolphins seemed to be a teaching opportunity for the matriarchs to practice hunting techniques with their young. We observed leaping, ramming, tail slapping, and other remarkable behaviors.

Encounter 16

We were successfully able to ID CA26, CA36, CA35, CA35A, CA58A, and CA58A1! These whales were just traveling in a tight group together for a couple of hours.

Encounter 17

On April 23, 2021 we had our first gray whale calf predation event of the season. We witnessed our only documented gray whale calf attack/kill for this season!

Encounter 18

The day after our first gray whale predation. 
The CA51s, CA51As, and CA140Bs were feeding on this carcass throughout the day.

Encounter 19

On Sunday, the orcas were still feeding on the same gray whale carcass from the predation event on the 23rd.

Encounter 20

A very exciting day - with multiple groups of killer whales seen in our area! All used to be encountered more frequently; they are fairly seldom seen now.

Encounter 21

RISSO'S DOLPHIN PREDATION - very rare documentation! 
Today we had an absolutely incredible encounter with 7-8 Bigg's transient killer whales that included an adult male, a large juvenile, and a calf. We have only documented a fatal Risso's dolphin attack in Monterey Bay once before! We also once observed Risso's dolphin CHASING off killer whales. Interactions between these two species are rare.

Encounter 22

Sightings from 29-31 and 9/3 Fatfin (CA171B) was sighted in Monterey Bay with a female, CA169, for 4 days on August 29, 30, 31 and September 3rd.  We have had several posts about him, so we are sure many of you know him well.  He is named after his wide dorsal fin, and he has been the locals’ favorite for many years. He is fully capable of hunting on his own and is often seen by himself.

Encounter 23

We are excited to announce that during our encounter with the CA51As on 9/7/21, we were able to determine that the newest member of the CA51As - CA51A4 "Eclipse" - is a boy! The son of CA51A "Aurora", his nickname aligns with his family's stellar theme, and was inspired by the smudged shadowy birthmark on his right eyepatch.

Encounter 24

On September 19th we saw the CA27s, a matriline we historically can go years without seeing! The whales were traveling quickly in foggy conditions, but we were able to confirm 6 of the 10 whales normally seen in this family: CA27, CA27C, CA27D, CA27D1, CA27D2, and CA27F.
CA27 is a known traveler—she famously journeyed to Glacier Bay in 1989 with CA18, CA20, and CA54 (the only time any transients have been confirmed in Alaska), and she was sighted off Washington in 1995.

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