Recent Sightings Archives

Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, California
Photo: Michael Nelson

Santa Cruz Whale Watching Sightings November 8-11

Santa Cruz Whale Watching Sightings for November 8-11, 2014

Monterey Bay is alive with marine life−humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds, even mola-mola! Each day is a little bit different, but always amazing and memorable. Soon we will start looking for gray whales migrating southward from Alaska to Baja California. For now we’ll keep enjoying humpback whales, California sea lions, otters and gorgeous marine birds feeding in the Bay.

Saturday: We spotted 10 humpback whales lunge feeding in the Bay among rafts and rafts of California sea lions hoping to grab a few fish for lunch.

Whales, dolphins, humpbacks, Santa Cruz, Monterey, tours

Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, California
Photo: Michael Nelson

Sunday: We were delighted to see bottlenose dolphins frolicking in Santa Cruz before we ventured out into the foggy morning. We had to search but found several humpback whales with some
Monday: To start the trip we saw 500 common dolphins just outside the harbor! They swam alongside the boat and were just spectacular to see. We found 10 humpback whales scattered throughout the Bay. One of them breached pretty near to the boat! Also spotted – a big old mola-mola aka sunfish.
Tuesday: Lunge feeding humpback whales just 2-3 miles out from Santa Cruz. We found more whales further out, near the Soquel Hole about half-way between Santa Cruz and Moss Landing. We had great views of common surface behaviors, including head slap. Everyone enjoyed flat calm ocean conditions on Monterey Bay.

Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, California Photo: Michael Nelson

Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, California
Photo: Michael Nelson

Gray whales will soon be coming through our waters on their annual migration from Alaska feeding grounds, to their mating and calving grounds off the coast of Baja California. Each year scientists along with dedicated enthusiast take a count of this once-endangered whale species. Gray whale spouts are easily visible from land as they try to stay along the coast line to avoid predators in the open waters. Counting efforts are underway at Big Sur. According to this article, the population of gray whales is rising:

“At their lowest back in the last century, there were probably around 3,000 to 5,000 gray whales. … But they’ve recovered and stabilized at around 20,000.” –Dave Weller, NOAA

Read more about the annual gray whale survey along the California coast.

Here is a link to a comprehensive guide to whale watching with kids along the US west coast, from Washington to Southern California. Read about the many species of whales and dolphins living and thriving in the Pacific Ocean and National Sanctuaries along the Pacific coast.

Whale Watching Monterey Bay with Stagnaro Charter Boats Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Great whale and dolphin show, beautiful ocean conditions

Friday, November 7, 2014: Whale watching today on sparkling autumn waters we had a great whale and dolphin show, beautiful ocean conditions!

Near Moss Landing, we watched 15 humpback whales lunge feeding all afternoon. Surface behaviors including a head slap, and breaching! We had about 5-6 minutes with friendly humpbacks swimming near to the boat.

Another loner juvenile whale was spotted exploring near Pleasure Point.

We got some photos of “Shred” a humpback whale with distinctive injured tail, most likely bitten at by Orcas. We’ve been seeing this guy in the Monterey Bay over spring and summer.

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“SHRED” the humpback whale, Monterey Bay, CA. Photo: Michael Nelson

On Wednesday’s trip we had “ride-along” bottlenose dolphins right out of the harbor. A group of 6 dolphins rode the bow with us for about 20 minutes! We traveled out to Moss Landing to see 8-10 whales feeding, tail slaps, breaching. And we saw Risso’s dolphins on the way back in towards Santa Cruz.

santa cruz whale watching monterey bay

Lunge feeding “chomp” Photo: Michael Nelson

santa cruz whale watching monterey bay

Whales very close to the boat! Photo: Michael Nelson

Next trips are Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – Veteran’s Day. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS NOW

Humpback whale fluke and California Sea Lions feasting, Monterey Bay, November 2013. Photo: Jim Holtan

The whales are still thick from Santa Cruz to Monterey

Monday, November 3, 2014: On Saturday the much-needed rain cleared out so we headed out whale watching! We had lots of humpback whales close to home, only 5 miles out of Santa Cruz! We watched a group of 8 humpbacks surface feeding with a herd of about 200 California sea lions. The feeding pack came right by the boat several times. There were another 6-10 whales also in the area around us. Then we came upon a pod of over 300 common dolphins that swam along with the moving boat for about 20 minutes!

Sunday we had lots of whales that were more spread out through the Monterey Bay. But we saw multiple breaching and tail throwing and all kinds of spectacular surface behaviors this day.

A special treat – We saw a Steller Sea Lion on the mile buoy last week, these guys are massive!

steller sea lion monterey

Steller Sea Lion, Monterey Bay near Santa Cruz. Photo: Michael Nelson

The next Santa Cruz Whale Watching trip is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5 at 12:00 PM.  Flat calm conditions are expected, with the humpback whales and dolphins still actively feeding and frolicking in the Monterey Bay! Our fully-narrated 3-4 hour whale watching trip leaves from The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. Trips do go rain or shine! For tickets call 831-205-2380 or purchase online here: TICKETS.

Check out our Zerve Fan Pages to see more great photos from recent Santa Cruz Whale Watching trips on Monterey Bay!

Look! We had an awesome visit from some friendly humpback whales on Friday, October 18!

Here are some neat aerial photos of humpback whales and sea lions near Moss Landing last week.

Orange County – Our neighbors down south have had some amazing and rare sightings over the last month – pilot whales and sperm whales spotted off of Dana Point! If you are down in the southland get out there! Try Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari or Dana Wharf Whale Watching.

Monterey Bay W.E.T. Rescue Crew, Thank you for your great work! Here’s a big shout out to rescuers from the Whale Entanglement Team this week for helping out a juvenile humpback whale who got its tail caught up in buoy line. For more information on how you can support the Monterey Bay W.E.T. volunteer crew, visit the Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Cruz Whale Watching finds Friendly Whales in Monterey Bay

Thursday, October 16th-Sunday October 19th: Thursday & Friday brought us many friendly humpback whales.  Santa Cruz Whale Watching enjoyed spy hops and long looks close to the boat.  Friday we saw a dozen Humpbacks and Risso’s dolphins.  Monterey Bay kept on providing entertainment with twenty Humpbacks and a pod of 100 Common Dolphins on Saturday.  You guessed it, Sunday we saw more Humpbacks!

We have trips Friday 10/24, Sat 10/25, Sun 10/26 & Mon 10/27.

Humpback, photo by Jeff Rockwell, Oct. 18, 2014

Humpback, photo by Jeff Rockwell, Oct. 18, 2014

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Whales near shore in Santa Cruz

Friday: Humpbacks surface feeding very close to shore in Santa Cruz!  Many surface lunges, right here by the Boardwalk, Wharf and Harbor!

Humpback whales at Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, October 10, 2014

Humpback whales at Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, October 10, 2014 photo: Megan Peterson

This shoreline activity continued over the weekend in Santa Cruz as whales and sea lions and birds followed “bait balls” of anchovies and fed to their heart’s content. Today we went whale watching out a little farther down towards Moss Landing where we saw humpback whales do all the surface behaviors: Breaching – full body leaps way out of the water! Pec-slapping, tail throwing, spy-hopping, close drive-bys, too. Its a great time to be out whale watching on the Monterey Bay!

Spy-hopping photo: Michael Nelson

Spy-hopping
photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whales, California sea lions, Monterey Bay, CA. October 14, 2014. photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whales, California sea lions, Monterey Bay, CA. October 14, 2014.
photo: Michael Nelson

 

 

 

 

humpback whale monterey

Humpback whales cool off in Monterey Bay

Monday, October 6, 2014: Sunday we had a super warm day on the bay! Hundreds – rafts – of California sea lions were interacting together with humpback whales. We had nice close looks at 10-15 humpback whales near Moss Landing, with many more whales in sight farther out over the deepest parts of the Monterey Bay Canyon.

Today we had a great display of humpback whales surface lunge feeding, vertical lunges out at the Soquel Hole, near Santa Cruz. We saw about 7-8 humpback whales out near Soquel Hole, but one guy was exploring very close to Santa Cruz just a mile out from the Harbor. We also had a group of bottlenose dolphin riding along with us just outside the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.

Next whale watching trips are this weekend – Friday through Monday. Plus,

BONUS: Fireworks Cruise! Saturday night, October 11, 7-10 PM for the Monte Foundation Benefit Fireworks Show over Capitola Village!

Click here for FIREWORKS CRUISE TICKETS

And, this coming Monday, October 13, is Columbus Day! Climb aboard “Velocity” to explore the Monterey Bay!

humpback whales santa cruz monterey

Humpback whales near shore at Santa Cruz

Friday, October 3, 2014: We continue to see scattered humpback whales near shore at Santa Cruz, occasionally lunge feeding…More whales lunge feeding together out in the middle of the bay in groups of 6-10 humpback whales. We saw double-breaching whales Sunday and Monday, plus one pod of 6 dolphins swimming with 200 sea lions with really close drive-bys. October! Still excellent whale activity, and should stay sunny and warm through the weekend!

Otter party! Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Sharing the wonders of Monterey Bay marine life

Sunday, September 14, 2014: Yesterday our whale watching trip was another rewarding adventure! We had a great group of visitors from around the world to our next door neighbors, sharing the wonders of Monterey Bay marine life. Among the sights:

  • 100s of common dolphins
  • Humpback whales – One big breach near to the boat!
  • Dozens of otters and California sea lions

After the trip we received a note from one of our guests, Tina, who wrote:

“…We were so lucky; we got to see so many whales, a slumber party of otters and some beautiful dolphins and sea lions.  The highlight was obviously when one of the humpbacks decided to breach and I was so astounded, that I did not get it on film but I did get lots of pictures of gorgeous whale tails and of course the otters… “

Well, Tina, we have that moment for you with this photo sent in by another passenger!

humpback whale breach

Humpback whale breach, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Colin Wade

Thank you to Jeff Wade for sending this image. Photo credit goes to his son, Colin Wade.

More images from Sunday’s whale watching trip on Monterey Bay
TICKETS

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humpback whale tail, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Common Dolphins, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Common Dolphins, Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Otter party! Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Otter party! Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay, CA. 9/14/14. Photo: Tina Hughes

Humback Whales still giving a great show in Monterey Bay

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014

Whale Watchers on Monterey Bay saw about 30 Humpbacks showing off their tricks.  One passenger took over 600 pictures!

Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014

Santa Cruz Whale Watching passengers oohed over about 10 Humpbacks in Monterey Bay.  We also were thrilled by 50 Common Dolphin, Sea Otters and Sea Lions.  Even a small Sun Fish or “Mola Mola” showed up to play.

Friday, Sept. 12

The Humpback Whales were having fun in the sun today on Monterey Bay!  We were graced by about 15 Humpbacks on the Santa Cruz side of the Soquel Hole.  They were showing us their surface behaviors such as Breaching, Peck Slapping and Tail Throwing.  Whale Watching on Monterey Bay continues to amaze!

Orca, Monterey Bay, CA. September 2014.
Photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whales, dolphins, orcas active in Monterey Bay

Thursday, September 4, 2014: Today on Sea Stag Six we saw a pod of 5 orcas, including mama and calf practicing their spy hops together! For quite a while we were also able to observe a group of docile humpbacks surfacing amidst a raft of sea lions. But we have to admit the orcas kind of stole the show.

September 3 – 7: Great trips all week! We’ve been running busy whale watching trips on both our boats – Velocity  and Sea Stag. Every time out we’re seeing humpback whales this side of Monterey Bay near Santa Cruz. We watched a pair of humpbacks right off the Lighthouse/ Steamer Lane.  Whales feeding on large schools of anchovies are being seen from the Harbor-mouth along West Cliff Drive all the way to Natural Bridges. As well as the near-shore sightings we see multiple animals offshore 4-6 miles out over the Soquel Hole and deep water canyons Santa Cruz side of Monterey Bay.  Humpbacks near and far can be seen breaching, tail throwing, pec-slapping – We see about 25 whales each trip!

Common dolphins have been joining us, bow-riding with the boat out in deeper waters, and we’ve been seeing bottlenose dolphins right outside the Harbor, too!