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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Calm seas and rolling fins

I went for a short walk at the end of the day.  The Pacific Ocean off Bodega Head hardly ever looks like this, especially in winter.  Calm seas and hardly any wind:

I watched for whales, without any luck.  But I noticed some small, dark shapes appearing every now and then and with my binoculars confirmed they were Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena).

The porpoises were pretty far out I'd guess ~3/4 mile off the coast — but close enough to see well with binoculars.  I did my best to capture a few photos for the record.  

Often you'd just catch a glimpse of one individual — a small back, with a short, triangular dorsal fin breaking the surface and then rolling forward:

There were some small groups of at least 3-4 individuals.  Here are two together:

Some of the birds were attracted to the porpoise activity.  Here's one porpoise with a gull and several cormorants:

How many porpoise can you see in the next photo?  [Click on it for a larger version.]

(There are three porpoises, one on the far left and another two just right of center.)

I think I probably observed at least 15 porpoises over ~45 minutes.  Because of their small size and short fins, it's usually hard to spot porpoises among larger waves or windy seas.  But it's worth looking for them on days like this!


Alice Chan said...

Thanks so much for this report and for these lovely photos.

Jackie Sones said...

Thanks, Alice! Happy to share the beautiful views! :)

Mary Keefe said...

Wonderful pics of the porpoises!