Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15
Photo: Michael Nelson

Humpbacks and Orca thrill on Monterey Bay

It’s been an active week on Monterey Bay with large groups of humpback whales lunge feeding on schools of anchovies, along with common dolphins, sea lions, birds, and a special encounter with orca! Here’s a recap of this week’s sightings with Santa Cruz Whale Watching tours.

Tuesday, Aug 25
Groups of 8-10 humpback whales lunge feeding repeatedly for over 2 hours! We had a pod of common dolphins mixed in with the whales. The dolphins were swimming with the boat alongside sea lions, and many feeding birds. One of the humpback whales was rolling around in the bait ball, showing off belly and ventral pleats—creases that run vertically down the underside of a whale’s jaw all the way to its stomach. When feeding, the ventral pleats expand like an accordion to accommodate a huge amount of food-rich water.

Thursday, Aug 27
We found a group of 3-4 humpback whales that were particularly friendly among more whales spread out across the bay. These animals were “lazy” feeding at the surface – one would just poke his snout out with a mouthful of anchovies, then slowing descend back down… We had more common dolphins that stayed with the boat all day! As we were starting to head back to Santa Cruz Harbor, we were intercepted by a single humpback whale doing tail throws and then several minutes of tail slaps!

Friday, Aug 28
Oh boy! On Friday there were more humpbacks sighted, “lazy” feeding on the abundant anchovies as before, but today’s whale watchers had a special treat with a group of four Orcas! There were two males accompanying a mother/calf pair. The orcas even spent a few minutes near to the boat, swimming under the boat in clear conditions – you could see them under the water! One passenger reported feeling the spray from their blowhole!

Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15 Photo: Michael Nelson

Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15
Photo: Michael Nelson

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Orca photos courtesy Michael B. Nelson

Don’t Miss the new PBS special “BIG BLUE LIVE” airing Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday on your local PBS station. It’s all about the amazing wildlife and ecosystems of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary that we get to enjoy every day! Tune in then come out with us on our beautiful boat Velocity!  BUY TICKETS HERE

Humpbacvk whale visits passengers on board Velocity, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Humpback whale visits passengers on board Velocity, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching