Sunday, February 21, 2010

Risso's dolphins
Grampus griseus

From our office window this morning I noticed the familiar, large disturbance in the bay waters - it looked like the v-shaped wake of a massive cruise ship, with a smattering of large, grey dorsal fins and spouts of white water. We quickly grabbed the camera and binoculars and ran out to the balcony to watch these dolphins. We estimate that there were almost a hundred individuals in this particular group. They were porpoising, spouting, breaching, and fluke waving, moving northward, and then seemed to stop right in front of us to feed. There was a large flock of gulls on the water surface, too.

I still vividly recall 2 years ago, witnessing a dolphin group at least 10 times this size, as far as I could see left to right, heading south towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium, during a pretty pink sunrise with a handful of boats tagging along; too bad I didn't think to take a picture back then. We like to quip to guests that the easiest way we spot whales and such in the bay is to keep a lookout for any congregation of whale watching boats. In 2009, I saw only 1 humpback from our balcony in late April without the aid of grouped boats, which was disappointing after we had numerous whale and dolphin sightings in 2008.

Even though we borrowed a cetacean book from a friend and learned about the identifying characteristics of spouts shapes, we had to reference one of the whale watching boat sites to deduce that it was a Risso's dolphin that we saw this morning. In addition to having poor zoom quality it's been drizzling, so my pictures aren't very good. At the very least, I'm glad to be recording our dolphin observation on this blog.

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