In the wild, animals go where the food is, so for hundreds of killer and humpback whales as well as dolphins, the place to be is California’s Monterey Bay.
They’re showing up for a booming seafood buffet thanks to an unusual late-season abundance of anchovies.
“We haven’t seen anchovies in this kind of mass in years and years,” said Chris Arcoleo, owner of Chris’ Fishing and Whale Watching.
He said charter companies could not keep up with customer demand for whale-watching trips.
“It’s incredible. We don’t have enough boats. We don’t have enough tim
e to do it,” Arcoleo told ABC News. “You’ve got hundreds of whales in the bay, along with sea lions and dolphins. It’s magnificent.”
Humpbacks can scarf down 3,000 pounds in a day. Their feeding frenzy is a once-in-a-lifetime show, with dozens of whales jumping into the air and lifting giant tails out of the water as they dive.
“Typically during the year you’re fortunate if you see four or five,” Arcoleo said.
The underwater bounty is the exact opposite of what researchers were seeing a few months ago in Southern California when hundreds of sea lion pups were washing ashore skinny and starving.
In March, Peter Wallerstein of Friends of Animals, Marine Animal Rescue, said he’d done 200 sea lion rescues since January.
“Commercial bait fishermen, friends of mine, said there’s no bait in the water,” Wallerstein told ABC News. “No anchovies, no sardines, no mackerel — the kind of food these animals eat.”
For now, however, there’s plenty to feast on both for the humpback whale and those watching the spectacle from a boat.