Recent Sightings Archives

Whale Watching Monterey CA

Humpback whale watching Santa Cruz side of Monterey Bay

Sunday, April 13, 2014: On Sunday’s tour we spotted 20 humpback whales spread out all around the northern Santa Cruz side of the Monterey Bay.

We saw two gray whales only a mile off shore on our way back in to the Harbor.

Monday, April 14, 2014: We enjoyed seeing four humpback whales with high fluke-ups and a couple of close “drive-bys.”

Then we saw over 500 Pacific white-sided dolphins, many of which were bow riding with the boat for a long while.


Tuesday, April 8 Monterey Whale Watching

Tuesday, April 8, 2014: Whale Watching on Monterey Bay!

Yesterday’s trip we saw eight humpback whales feeding on krill. We also saw over 50 Risso’s dolphins, all near the Soquel Canyon about 6-7 miles due south from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.

Later we watched about seven sea otters in the kelp forests off of Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. The sea otter finds both safety and food within the kelp. A sea otter will typically wrap up within the kelp leaves, which are anchored to the rocky sea floor, preventing them from drifting to sea while they sleep. Foraging for mostly shellfish the sea otter will use a rock to rest on their stomach while hitting the dense shell of a clam against it to reveal its meaty prize.A lovely morning out on Monterey Bay! IMG_5425

Join Santa Cruz Whale Watching Thursday, April 10, and Sunday, April 13. Call for tickets, or purchase online. Our complete April whale watching calender can be viewed here:


Friday sightings: humpback whales and gray whale feeding

Friday, April 4, 2014 sightings: 7 humpback whales, 1 gray whale. The gray whale appeared to be feeding which is unusual gray whale behavior in this area.

Whale watching set out Friday morning and we spotted our first pair of whales near Santa Cruz over the Soquel Canyon. Further out we viewed 2 more pairs, feeding on anchovies about 9 miles offshore over Monterey Canyon,Whale Watching Monterey CA

Our whale watching group aboard Velocity got to see some good flukes, or whale tails, rise out of the water. Later two humpbacks were tail lobbing and tail throwing, creating a huge splash near the boat.

Throughout the trip we could see more humpbacks breaching further out in the distance.

When we see gray whales off the coast of Santa Cruz and Monterey  each year, they are passing through on their annual migration. The Monterey Bay is not their final destination, so it is unusual to see them making a pit stop to feed. The gray whale we saw Friday appeared to be diving down to feed.

Santa Cruz Whale Watching tours depart weekends and weekdays. Private Charters also available!

dolphins whale watching monterey

Risso’s dolphins “nursery pod” and humpback whales today

Thursday, April 3, 2014: Today we saw six humpback whales feeding over the Soquel Canyon, and a bit further out, we saw nursery pod of about 50 Risso’s dolphins.

On the way back in to harbor, we came across another very large pod of Risso’s dolphins – about 200 animals – just two miles outside of Santa Cruz! One of the dolphins pulled out a fantastic breach with a head slap onto the water.

Add on to that our visits with the California sea lions, otters and harbor seals; it was a lovely day whale watching on Monterey Bay.

The count: 6 humpbacks whales, 250 Risso’s dolphins

Spring is the time of year for nursery pods!
“Female dolphins and their calves form nursery pods. A mother and her calf stay together for between three and six years. Female dolphins who have bonded with each other swim together to help care for and protect their young. Although all calves leave their nursery pod as juveniles, they return periodically to swim with their mothers. When young females are pregnant, they often join their natal nursery pod to birth and raise their calves with their mother and other female relations. Adult male dolphins are rarely seen near nursery pods.” By Jennifer Mueller, Paw Nation

dolphins whale watching monterey

Risso’s dolphins, Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. Photo: Michael Nelson

Spring break whale watching! We’re offering regular whale watching trips weekdays and weekends on board Velocity from Sunday, April 6 – 20. Check out our schedule here, or call 831-427-0230.

Private or shared whale watching trips are also available on our 6-passenger vessel, Sea Stag Six. Call 831-427-0230 for details.


Fat Fin the orca killer whale, santa cruz whale watching 3/30/14. photo: Michael Nelson

Killer whales, gray whales, humpbacks thrill Monterey Bay

Wednesday, April 2, 2014: After the rain, Santa Cruz Whale Watching is out again today! We saw three gray whales right outside the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. In April the grays are migrating northbound again to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. Gray whales pass through Monterey every year over the winter months. Further out we came upon four humpback whales feeding over the Soquel Canyon, on the Santa Cruz side of the Bay. We got to see plenty of breaching and tail lobbing. Good viewing today!

Humpback whale breach monterey Santa Cruz whale watching

Humpback whale breach, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching 3/23/14. photo: Michael Kiernan

Sunday, March 30, 2014: One of our Monterey Bay regulars, Fat Fin the big male Orca sneaked up on us and exploded out of the water while we were arriving to see a group of humpback whales. He continued to breach over and over and was really easy to view!

Fat Fin orca killer whale, santa cruz whale watching

Fat Fin the orca killer whale, Santa Cruz Whale Watching 3/30/14. photo: Michael Nelson

Then we hung out and got some really great looks at a group of about six feeding humpback whales.

Weekday and weekend whale watching trips available throughout the month for Spring Break! Join us! For schedule and to purchase tickets call 831-427-0230 or visit our online ticketing agent, Zerve.

whale watching monterey

Humpback whale spouts, flukes, fun!

Friday, March 28, 2014: Today whale watching aboard Velocity we caught up with six humpback whales just off Moss Landing. Further out, we enjoyed the antics of about 1000 Risso’s dolphins – one did a huge flip at the side of the boat! Then a gray whale popped up about 300 yards behind Velocity. A lovely day whale watching on Monterey Bay!

dolphins monterey santa cruz

Risso’s dolphins, Monterey Santa Cruz Whale Watching. March 28, 2014 Photo: Michael Nelson

Rare Sighting in Monterey Bay: Humpback and Gray whale swimming together!

Sunday March 23, 2014: On Sunday Santa Cruz Whale Watching had a rare and very special trip on Monterey Bay! We followed a pair of Humpbacks and a Gray whale swimming together! Our Naturalist had never seen this behavior before. We saw a Humpback breaching! Another rare sight was a “Megapod” of a thousand plus Risso’s dolphins. They were literally stretching out for over a mile! An awesome sight!

Monday March 24, 2014: We were only a 1/2 mile out of Santa Cruz when we spotted our first whale! It was a young gray. We then headed to outer Monterey Bay where we had another incredible encounter with two humpback whales. They got friendly with the boat, swimming right under us while adrift and looking up at the people. We also got to see several breaches and spectacular tail throws!! It was another special day on Monterey Bay!
On Friday March 21, 2014: we enjoyed 5 Gray Whales in Monterey Bay and dozens of Otters in Santa Cruz.

Saturday March 22, 2014: On Saturday we saw a couple of Humpback Whales and a Gray Whale. A wonderful four days of Whale Watching on Monterey Bay!

Join us aboard Velocity! Tours depart every weekend and weekdays starting March 31st for Spring Break! To purchase tickets click here: TICKETS!

Monterey whales and dolphins

Spring upwelling brings whales and dolphins to Monterey and Santa Cruz

March 19, 2014: With the spring upwelling now happening in Monterey Bay, a wide variety of whales and dolphins are now being spotted from Santa Cruz to Monterey. Along with our usual gray whale migration, blue whales, humpbacks and killer whales (orca) have been seen in the last two weeks.

Monterey Bay whales and dolphins

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The upwelling creates plankton blooms that are drawing in massive schools of squid and anchovies. As a result several species of dolphin have been spread throughout Monterey Bay as well. Monterey is home to seven different species of dolphin that inhabit our waters throughout the year. We’ve spotted thousands of Risso’s and Pacific white-sided dolphins during whale watching trips over the last couple of weeks.

UPDATE: Today 3/19 on Sea Stag Six we saw Gray whales, Risso’s dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins and Dall’s porpoises!

Monterey whales and dolphins

Risso’s dolphins, Monterey Bay. March 16, 2014. Photo: Jenn Byrd

We’ve had several recent reports from people along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, seeing whale spouts right from the walking path! These are most likely gray whales migrating northbound from Mexico back to Alaska for their summer feeding season. Keep your eyes peeled if you are whale watching from shore!

Monterey whale watching tours with Santa Cruz Whale Watching depart out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor every weekend, with daily trips starting in April for spring break and summer.  All trips are fully narrated by our dynamic team of naturalists who help you to spot the whales and dolphins and offer lots of information about animal behavior and the ecosystem of the Monterey Bay.  Food and beverage, restrooms, indoor and outdoor seating are all available on board our 60 foot boat, Velocity.  Ask about upgrading to the Captain’s Deck for private seating and premium views (available weather permitting).

For whale watching reservations, call 831-427-0230 or click the link to buy tickets online. Next tours are this weekend, Friday through Monday, March 21-24.

Humpback whales are here!

March 18, 2014: Saturday and Sunday, we saw humpback whales and more Risso’s dolphins. Wonderful show from the humpback whale on Sunday, tail throwing and making a big splash!

Humpback whale March 16, 2014. Photo: Michael B. Nelson

Humpback whale March 16, 2014. Photo: Michael B. Nelson

Monterey whale watching offers seven different species of Whales and seven different species of Dolphin & Porpoise year-round. The Humpback Whale is the most common whale found out of Santa Cruz, seen usually from April through November. Then from December through April, over 20,000 Gray Whales pass through our waters off of Monterey Bay.

Sea Lions, Seals, Otters and nearly one hundred different species of sea birds, both endemic and migratory, are common; Even Sea Turtles, Jellies, Sunfish (mola mola) and Sharks at times can be seen at the surface. Our boat, the Velocity, can quickly and safely bring guests to wherever these animals are—from the shores of Monterey to Moss Landing and points North.

The Stagnaro family has been serving the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz area for over a century when Italian Patriarch Cottardo Stagnaro settled in Santa Cruz in 1879 by providing Ocean Adventures to thousands of people each year, and now by offering the best Monterey Bay whale watching cruise to interested parties on their luxurious charter boat.

Even if whale watching in Monterey Bay is not your cup of tea per se, Stagnaro Charters has ensured that there is something for everyone to enjoy: Calm Water Sanctuary Scenic Cruises, Dolphin and Sea Life Excursions, Sunset Cruises, San Francisco Day Trips, and even Private Group outings. And all of the trips are fully narrated, providing fascinating and educational insight by the crew. Enjoy Monterey Bay in style with Stagnaro Charter and we guarantee that you will be thrilled by your experience and exceptional service provided by the crew.

Join us whale watching in Monterey Bay this weekend, trips available Friday through Monday. Spring Break!

TICKETS: Call 831-427-0230 or online

Clear waters and a wide variety of marine life whale watching in Monterey Bay today

Friday, March 14, 2014:
Monterey whale watching, early spring, under sunny skies we saw a great variety of marine life today.

After setting out from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, about 3-4 miles out, we had a group of about 25 Risso’s dolphins swimming with the boat for quite a while. The group included juvenile dolphins, which were a treat to see.

Further out we had a new group, a pod of about 30 Pacific white-sided dolphins also swimming alongside us and bow-riding, leaping and seeming to have a great time! The water was exceptionally clear today so it was easy to see the animals’ activity under the water. Great visibility!

So that’s two of the five species of dolphins that regularly inhabit the waters off Santa Cruz and Monterey. Add to that the California sea lions and a 300 pound Sunfish (Mola-Mola) and we were pretty happy.

Then even further out, we came upon a humpback whale! It’s just about time we start to see humpbacks in Monterey Bay, here for their spring and summer feeding season in Monterey Bay. This whale was feeding just below the surface and we were able to watch for quite a while. It showed lots of fluking for great views of its whale’s tail.

We’re sold out Saturday, but there are tickets available for our whale watching trip Sunday, March 16 and weekends through the end of the month. Look for daily trips during “Spring Break” April 1-20. We welcome you aboard to enjoy the variety and beauty of Monterey Bay!