This photo was taken from the stone jetty near Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey while waiting to board a whale watching boat.
Monterey Bay is a prime feeding ground for whales throughout the summer. The nutrient-rich cold water in the very deep marine canyon just offshore rises as summer wind patterns push the warmer surface water out to sea. This phenomenon is called "upwelling", and it happened in spades this year (2010). The result was a gigantic explosion of krill, the likes of which may not occur again in my lifetime. In "normal" years, baleen whales (filter-feeders such as the personable humpbacks) spend the summer in Monterey Bay feeding on fish and krill, but the largest baleen whale of all, the "blue", is rarely sighted. Blue whales aren't just big whales - they're the largest living things ever to inhabit the planet. Unlike humpbacks, blues feed excusively on krill. The Bay doesn't usually produce enough of it to support more than 1 or 2 blue whales per season. Until this year.
So, the krill attracted huge numbers of whales, which in turn attracted huge numbers of people, including Joan, Penny, and me. I set a personal record by going on 4 whale tours in a single month!