Some BIG baleen whale encounters were reserved for Super Cetacean Saturday! It was another day full of variety and the wildlife did not disappoint! We encountered the second largest animal existing on planet Earth this morning! A GIGANTIC Fin Whale made quite the appearance offshore. What was most exciting is the fact that this individual possessed characteristics that suggest hybridization..a Blue Whale-Fin Whale hybrid to be exact! We cannot confirm this without a DNA sample (or identification at the individual level with the use of photo ID IF it has been cataloged), but we noted a few significant points that may help you all to form your own opinions! As for the characteristics that Blue Whales typically possess, the animal was estimated to be ~85-90 feet in length (larger than a Fin Whale to be encountered here in the northern hemisphere), the skin color was much lighter than that of the average Fin Whale, the dorsal fin was positioned similarly to that of a Blue Whale (~2/3 back on the body), the rostrum size/shape was also more similar to that of a Blue Whale and it was reported that the whale raised its flukes after we left the area (Fin Whales very rarely show their flukes). On the contrary, the dorsal fin was much larger than that of a typical Blue Whale, the jaw was asymmetrically pigmented (Fin Whales have a lower jaw that is white on the right, gray/black on the left) and there was a chevron present on the back as one would expect on a Fin Whale. What do you think?! It is absolutely possible to encounter Blue Whale-Fin Whale hybrids here off the coast of San Diego, as instances have been confirmed via DNA testing in the past. How cool would that be?! We were able to get some amazing looks at this whale in addition to a pair of northbound Gray Whales. What a way to start the day!
Our afternoon started off on the slow side, with some sightings of Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins, sea birds, a feeding California Sea Lion and a Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish). Luckily for us, we entered a baleen whale crossing zone, where a Minke Whale and Gray Whale crossed paths! We focused on the Minke Whale and got a few good looks at it before turning home and running into our last Gray Whale of the day! As we always say, you NEVER know what you’re going to see when you take to the water..we have had an incredible few days! We hope to see you all out on The Privateer soon.