Top areas to view whales
Facts about whales
Breeding patterns of whales
The gray-whale-watching season in California varies along the coast during winter and spring as the grays migrate south to the mating and calving lagoons of México, then return north to feed mainly off Alaska. In addition, during summer, blue, humpback and other whales can be seen. In 1991, there were more than 50 companies or non-profit societies operating whale-watching tours from some 20 ports all along the California coast. The impact of whale watching thus is spread out along the entire 840-mile coast.
The current gray whale population numbers 21,000. An impressive 94 percent of that number pass within a mile of the Point Reyes in the first two weeks of January. Standing on a bluff in the cold, you can see gray spouts out at sea. Californians make their own seasonal migration to greet them, and call out their support. But you have whale watching opportunities all year long along the coast.
Monterey is the best place in the nation to view a variety of marine mammals and seabirds. The Monterey Submarine Canyon approaches close to the shore, allowing deep water species of whales, dolphins, and seabirds to occur near the coast. Shallow water species, such as the gray whale, are found very close to shore in the narrow shelf region.
Whale watching trips are educationally oriented and biologists collect valuable data on the marine mammals sighted during these trips, including distribution, relative abundance, and behavior of whales and dolphins. We also photo-identify individual whales and dolphins, contributing to assessments of population, residency patterns, and migration or movement patterns.
Depending on the season, whales and dolphins that are frequently observed include Gray Whales, Humpback
Whales, Blue Whales, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Risso's Dolphins, Northern Right Whale Dolphins, Common
Dolphins, Killer Whales, and Dall's Porpoise. We occasionally spot Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoise,
Bottlenose Dolphins, and Beaked Whales.