SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — The Bay Area’s coastline was pretty quiet this spring with not many ocean wildlife sightings. But recent windy weather created ocean upwelling that set off the food chain.
“The Bay is booming, it is exploding with life, finally! We had this lull in February, March, and even April. But now it’s in full swing,” said drone pilot Eric Mailander.
Whales are at the top of the food chain and showing up in big numbers.
Mailander shot amazing images of orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, fin whales and blue whales. He finds whales most frequently swimming above Monterey Bay’s deep underwater canyon.
The canyon rivals the Grand Canyon in size and grandeur, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
“Monterey Bay is definitely one of the top two places on Earth that you can see whales, dolphins and sharks,” Mailander said.
Whales watchers can thank windy weather for the whales.
“This time of year we get spring winds that start an upwelling process bringing cold water and nutrients to the surface. That starts the food chain,” Mailander said. “So we get krill. Then the anchovies come in and feed on the krill.”
The blues and humpbacks are following big bait balls of anchovies and krill, while orcas are preying on seals and baby gray whales.
Mailander said seeing whales in the wild is worth hopping on a boat.
“The blue whale is the largest animal that’s ever lived on the face of the Earth. They are so majestic, I never get tired of seeing them. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of them and the excitement is always there,” Mailander said.
“But my favorite whale is the fin whale. They are called ‘greyhounds of the sea’ because they are sleek and fast,” he continued.