Friday, December 6, 2013: Phenomenal. Humpback whales in good numbers are still feeding in the Monterey Bay! Yesterday we took a small group out on the Sea Stag Six (our 6-pack boat) from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. About 8 miles off shore we started to see several pods of humpback whales feeding in the middle of the bay. Scattered around in groups of 4-6 individuals, we spotted 30 whales in all during our four hour trip.
The humpbacks were mostly lunge feeding, with many breaches in the distance. Also about 100 California Sea Lions were there, getting in on the abundant food. It was a great show!
Grays are here! We also spotted three gray whales at the edge of Monterey Bay. Gray whales are on their annual southbound migration between Alaska and their winter breeding grounds of Baja California. We’ll see a steady stream of these creatures – over 20,000 animals in all – passing through our waters from now until early spring.
It is unprecedented to see humpback whales in these numbers so late into fall. With the late humpbacks and early grays, the next few weeks offers a great chance to see two whale species on the same trip!
Sea Stag Six is available for private or shared whale watching trips (4-6 passengers) during next week while Velocity is in dry dock for annual maintenance. Winter whale watching trips on Velocity resume on Friday, December 13. Feel free to call our Santa Cruz office for details (831-427-0230).
Sunday 11/24: With an enthusiastic crowd, we counted 20 humpback whales, a big group of Risso’s dolphins and another big group of Pacific white-sided dolphins. Ther was lots of oohs and ahhs!
Tuesday 11/26 we saw two orcas, a male and female pair, along with humpbacks, about 25 in all. Several of the whales were very friendly, approached the boat and dove and rolled around underneath the boat! We had gorgeous clear blue water to view these amazing animals!
Wednesday11/27, we counted at least 30 more humpback whales, and the special show was in their display of tandem breaching! They were jumping and leaping out of the water near and far.
All trips sold out this weekend. We thank everyone for joining us on our boat, Velocity, to share in the magnificent wildlife of Santa Cruz County and Monterey Bay!
Thursday, November 21, 2013: We’re getting ready for another weekend of whale watching trips, eager to continue seeing the humpback whales that have been feeding in tremendous numbers this Fall. Along with the whales, over the past weeks we’ve seen Orcas, loads of California sea lions, otter families, a great variety of pelagic birds, and more…
Whale Watching aboard Velocity, November 19, 2013. photo: Mary Dixon
Here is the round-up of marine mammals sighted last week (November 12-19) on our whale watching trips in the Monterey Bay:
120 Humpback Whales
1 Minke Whale
50 Risso’s Dolphin
50 Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
10 Northern Right Whale Dolphin
15 Bottlenose Dolphin
California Sea Lion at the one-mile buoy, Santa Cruz. Photo: Mary Dixon
Monday, November 18, 2013: This weekend’s whale watch sightings showed the variation in activity we can see this time of year.
Friday it was kind of quiet out there: We saw 2 humpback whales, 4 bottlenose dolphin and 8 otters. Lots of beautiful sea birds, too. We had gorgeous scenery and great company!
On Saturday, things picked up. We saw seven humpback whales and a pod of bottlenose dolphin to start the trip as we headed out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. Further out on Monterey Bay we saw a very large humpback whale at mid-distance showing us a good session of pec slapping . We also saw a few mother and calf pairs in the vicinity, good blows and flukes.
But on Sunday, hey, everyone came to the party! We saw so many humpback whales it was hard to count – 50 whales at least. A few friendly whales approached the boat for a closer look. We also saw three types of dolphin at the same time: Risso’s dolphins, pacific white-sided dolphins and Northern right whale dolphins!
Go on a virtual whale watching trip with us by clicking over to Jim Holtan’s Flickr photo tour!
Humpback whale and California Sea Lions feasting, Monterey Bay, November 2013. Photo: Jim Holtan
Sunday, November 10, 2013: Oh wow! We had a full boat of hopeful whale watchers whose dreams came true today.
We saw 50 humpback whales feeding eight miles out. We had several close -CLOSE – “drive-bys” from several whales.
Then we watched two Orcas kill a sea lion, earning their nick-name “killer whale.”
We were glad to see the smiles on a pod of bottlenose dolphins near the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor entrance.
Nature in all her forces of beauty and brutality making a show today on the Monterey Bay!
Sightings Report for Saturday, November 2, 2013: We had three frolicking young humpback whales doing every trick in the book ~ breaching, pec slapping, tail slapping, and spyhopping near to the boat! …on our afternoon bay cruise we had about two dozen bottlenose dolphins.
Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Humpbacks, Fall 2013. Photo: Hector BeltrandelRio
Next whale watching trips are Monday November 4th and Friday November 8th. All whale watching trips depart out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor to explore wildlife on Monterey Bay. Ask about our private whale tours on board our new boat, Sea Stag Six!
We found 35-40 humpback whales in the Monterey Bay on Friday and Saturday whale watching trips!
Both days we had our first whales just 30 seconds out of the harbor and after that, it was whales here, whales there, whales everywhere!
On Friday, after observing 6-7 animals near shore for a while, we ventured further offshore towards the central Bay to check out the action. Around Soquel Hole there were whales everywhere, exhibiting all types of surface behavior: breaching, tail throws, pec slapping, all but lunge feeding. A truly spectacular show!
Today we followed the same route for some more great action offshore, with fantastic breaching at mid-distance, which gave us a whole body view!
It’s exciting to see so much humpback whale activity this late in the season here in Santa Cruz-Monterey. Soon enough on our whale watching trips we’ll start seeing Gray Whales pass through on their southbound migration. Each year over 20,000 Gray Whales travel from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to their winter calving grounds in Baja California. Two-way travel can be observed starting in December until April/May.
Wednesday On Monday’s whale watching trip we spotted 14 humpback whales, all between the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor to the Cement Ship “Palo Alto” at Seacliff State Beach. All the whales were still feeding less than a mile offshore; we saw many tail throws from one animal.
Overall sightings last week:
70 Humpback Whales, 100 Risso’s Dolphins, 40 Bottlenose Dolphins.
Cement ship “Palo Alto” at Seacliff State Beach
Sunday, October 20, 2013: Humpback whales are loving it in Santa Cruz! On Thursday we took a private charter out for a two hour Bay Cruise along the shoreline and no promise of whales. Boy, was this group in for a treat! Just off shore near the Santa Cruz Wharf and towards Lighthouse Point, we spotted a mother and calf. They were both breaching at the same time ~ So awesome!
Friday and Saturday, with a full boat ready for the whale watching tour, right out of the gate, “Whales straight ahead!” One of we think three mother/calf pairs we’ve been seeing for the past several months were enjoying the flat calm waters and October sunshine. Not much in the way of acrobatics, but we got some nice long looks at the whales swimming in tandem and fluking up as if in a synchronized swimming routine. A second pair was cruising around the Capitola area. With the quiet ocean conditions, we got a good listen to the sound of their exhales, and good spout-views. …and smell the whale breath, powerful stuff!
Friday we had five more whales about six miles further out in the Monterey Bay. On Saturday, however, when we travelled back out to that spot, the whales were not to be found… Instead, we came upon a fast-swimming pod of about 12 Risso’s Dolphin. They were really on the go, and we spotted at least one juvenile in the group. We were excited for our passengers to see Risso’s so close in, as they usually remain in the deep water canyons in the center of the Bay.
After some fun looks at the Risso’s, we headed back towards Aptos to visit our near-shore humpbacks. Along the way we had a comical show by California Sea Lions goofing off, leaping and twirling above a big thick bait ball near New Brighton/Seacliff Beach. Then a nice big lunge feed by one of the whales!
Today whales can again be seen from shore out at New Brighton and Seacliff State Beach!
Sunday, we saw 8 whales, all in the Santa Cruz to Capitola area. One calf breached nine times right next to the boat!
Monday, we saw 35 whales from Santa Cruz to about four miles off shore. Five whales were continuously lunge feeding on anchovies.
Lunge feeding, Monterey Bay, October 14, 2013. Photo: Tanis Gomez
Then just for fun, we had 30 bottlenose dolphins right outside the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor on the way back in. Another special autumn weekend on Monterey Bay!
Overall sightings last week: 180 humpback whales and 75 bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphins follow us in to the harbor! October 14, 2013. Photo: Tanis Gomez