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Whale Watching Report from Hornblower for March 20–26

From the morning cruise to the afternoon cruise, whale watchers get their fill of gray whales, dolphins, and more
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Hornblower Cruises

Our trend of amazing encounters with Humpback Whales and thousands of dolphins, sea lions and seabirds feeding on bait balls continues. We are also still seeing a steady stream of Gray Whales traveling north and have even seen a juvenile visit the bay. To date, we’ve spotted 595 Gray Whales during the current season and 154 Humpback Whales. See our updated Sightings Reports at


March 20, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 300+ Common Dolphins

A beautiful morning with smooth seas. We briefly spotted a Gray Whale, but the highlight of the morning was a large herd of Common Dolphins off our bow. Folks from Vancouver, Turkey, Germany and many US Stated joined us on the cruise.

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 300+ Common Dolphins, 20+ California Sea Lions

We began with winds and a brief rain squall that cleared to a sunny afternoon. We spotted 2 Adult Gray Whales, which we followed for over an hour and also encountered lots of Common Dolphins. On our way back in, we briefly spotted a Humpback Whale.

March 21, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 3 Gray Whales, 3 Humpback Whales, 300+ Common Dolphins, 20+ Bottlenose Dolphins

A few elusive Gray Whales started our day. Then we came upon scores of playful Common Dolphins. The sixth grade class onboard screamed in delight several times as we enjoyed their antics. Some people got to see some larger, offshore, Bottlenose Dolphins bow riding too. Captain Mike next navigated us over to a feeding frenzy with three Humpback Whales, hundreds of seabirds and a few California Sea Lions feeding on a bait ball. Just as the Adventure Hornblower turned back to the harbor, one of the Humpbacks breached or lunged. An awesome day!

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: n/a

Afternoon Cruise cancelled due to weather.

March 22, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 3 Humpback Whales, 300+ Common Dolphins, 30+ California Sea Lions

A beautiful sunny day. We enjoyed watching 3 Humpback Whales including a juvenile feeding on baitfish and accompanied by Common Dolphins, sea lions and marine birds.

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 4 Gray Whales

A lovely afternoon on the water! Shortly after leaving the bay and heading north, we encountered a lone gray whale, barely showing himself out of the water. Other boats had sighted 3 gray whales near Pacific Beach, so Captain Mike headed off in that direction. Found them! We followed the trio for almost an hour as they snorkeled near the surface, their light colored bodies glimmering in the sun. Sometimes you could hear their blows, they were so near. The best was one whale’s breach as the Adventure Hornblower turned to head back to the bay!

March 23, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 2 Humpback Whales, 500+ Common Dolphins

A beautiful morning with constant sunshine. There were 2 Humpback Whales observed feeding among seabirds, jumping fish, and hundreds of Common Dolphins and Sea Lions. A feeding frenzy was enjoyed by all!

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 4 Gray Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins

It was a beautiful day – bright and sunny. We saw a lot of seabirds feeding, including a Blue-footed Booby. We spotted a California sea lion and then came upon 4 north bound Gray Whales. They showed us lots of tail flukes and came close to the boat. As we were making our way back in we were entertained by around 100 Common Dolphins. Everyone had a very good time.

March 24, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 5 Gray Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins

A beautiful sunny day with a bit of a swell. We initially saw a Gray Whale entering San Diego Bay. After we reached 9 to 10 miles out west, we spotted three adult and one juvenile Gray Whale heading north. A great sighting! While heading back to the harbor we were surrounded by approximately 100 Common Dolphins…another great whale watching day…lots of excitement.

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 2 Gray Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins

The afternoon was sunny and clear. The trip began with a dolphin sighting. The passengers were thrilled to see Common Dolphins jumping along each side of the boat. We spent a long time beside two adult Gray Whales. These whales swam very close to the boat. The passengers were amazed by how well you could see the whales’ bodies as they were both swimming so close to the surface of the water. What a wonderful experience!

March 25 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 200+ Common Dolphins, 20+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins

A Sunny calm day. We initially spotted a juvenile Gray Whale in the bay near the Maritime Museum- this whale has been spotted in the bay for the past few days. The whale swam out from beneath the boat and surfaced alongside for everyone to see. As we were leaving the bay, we spotted a leaping Bottlenose Dolphin in the Navy training center. Out at sea, we enjoyed watching mixed groups of Common and Pacific White-sided Dolphins. People from England, Canada, many states joined us on the cruise.

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 1 Gray Whale, 6 Humpback Whales, 2000+ Common Dolphins, 40+ California Sea Lions

The Adventure Hornblower sailed southward out under a sunny sky with a slight breeze. Captain Rick took us over to where the Star of India ship is dock for a quick look at the Juvenile Gray Whale visiting the bay. After a few minutes of observation we cruised out of the bay southward then headed west to an area where a few whale rib boats had sighted 3 Humpback Whales feeding. As we approached we could see and hear the spouts of the Humpbacks as well as, their flukes. We noticed a lot of seabird activity as well as Common Dolphins who were feeding in the area. A couple of tail slaps from the whales surprised guests on board. We enjoyed our time with them, however, we sighted several more huge blows less than a half a mile away so Captain Rick sailed toward that direction. We quickly came upon a huge bait ball with a lot of Common Dolphins feeding along with 2 more Humpbacks feeding. What excited the guest was the amount of activity in the immediate area as the humpbacks and dolphins would speed in one direction, then switch direction to another area. It was like playing a game of “Tag, Your It!” Guests aboard cheered loudly and were enthralled over seeing what was happening before them. A couple of more breaches, tail slapping, fluking and a huge mass of seabirds included pelicans that were dive-bombing the bait balls, terns who screeched for food, and many cormorants all feeding together along with the marine mammals. Before we knew it we had humpbacks on all sides of the boat. A whale soup episode amidst the excited guests. Captain Rick began to head back when we sighted another Humpback and we were able to observe its behavior especially how it moved so quickly through the water to get to the schools of fish. Simply AMAZING!!!! Final count 6 Humpbacks, 1 Gray whale, 2,000 Common Dolphins, 40 sea lions and a large population of seabirds. Guests on board commented how unbelievable this experience was and it was ONE OF THE BEST WHALE WATCHING ADVENTURES OF ALL TIME! Thanks to all the crew on board, 1st mate Shane, Captain Rick and whale naturalist, Pam you guys did an outstanding job of making a whole lot of guests very, very, very happy!

March 26, 2019

Morning Cruise

Sightings: 6 Humpback Whales, 3 Gray Whales, 1000+ Common Dolphins

An excellent trip with 6 Humpback Whales displaying several energetic behaviors including pectoral flipper slapping, lob tailing and breaching. We also spotted 3 northbound Gray Whales that were snorkeling and fluked several times. To cap off the morning, we enjoyed watching a large herd of Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise

Sightings: 2 Humpback Whales, 1000+ Common Dolphins

An amazing afternoon worthy of National Geographic! We found an active baitball of schooling fish with lots of feeding Common Dolphins, California Sea Lions, and seabirds. Best of all, 2 Humpback Whales, repeatedly lunged through the baitball and even fluked for us.

Whale Watching Report from Hornblower for March 20–26

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