Recent Sightings Archives

Humpback whales lunge feeding, Monterey Bay, September 30, 2015.
With Santa Cruz Whale Watching
Photo: Michael Nelson

Monterey whale watching continues

Wednesday 9/30/15 Great trip! About 10-20 humpback whales on our Monterey whale watching trip…Big open lunge feeding near the boat.

Humpback whales lunge feeding, Monterey Bay, September 30, 2015. With Santa Cruz Whale Watching Photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whales lunge feeding, Monterey Bay, September 30, 2015.
With Santa Cruz Whale Watching
Photo: Michael Nelson

Friday 10/2/15 Many whales! We had some close “horizontal” lunge feeding about 20 yards from the boat, the humpback whale showed its pectoral fin then lunged sideways in a way we were able to see its eye! Later we had about 20 whales surface lunge feeding at the same time, and numerous common dolphins.

How many whales can you count? Photo Michael Nelson

How many whales can you count? Photo Michael Nelson

Saturday 10/3/15 More fabulous views of humpback whales in Monterey Bay! Close breaches! Close-by pec slaps and tail slaps.

Orca Monterey Bay

September Highlights Orcas, Whales, Dolphins

What an amazing month for whale watching in Monterey Bay! Plenty of humpback whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and a special day with Orcas! Plus a pair-trio of humpbacks took up residence very near shore in Santa Cruz, feeding on schools of anchovies near West Cliff Drive for over a week. Here are some highlights from September.

Fri, 9-25-15.
Yesterday whale watching we saw humpbacks everywhere we looked! At least 30 whales!

Wed, 9-21-15.
Bottlenose Dolphins in the harbor. Hundreds of Common Dolphins, bow riding, riding the wake. Many groups of multiple Humpbacks feeding, feeding, feeding. Partial lunge feed. WOW!

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Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds

Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds 2 Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds 3



Wed, 9-16-15.
One of September’s most memorable trips! We had a group of 7 orca near the boat! Epic show today! 7 orcas by the boat; orcas were picking on a humpback whale and on a shark, and we got to see an orca breach! Countless lunge feeding humpback whales.
Common dolphins and sunfish, too!

Orca Monterey Bay

Wild and free Orca! 9-16-15, Monterey Bay.
Photo Nico Ientile

The whales at West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz were amazing! Check out this VIDEO by RitaZero

Humpback whales Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. archive photo: Aaron Neff

The whales of August Monterey style

Monterey Bay Whales have been seen from shore near Santa Cruz since the first week of August. Humpback whales and small groups of dolphins have been spotted out in front of Seabright Beach and also along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.  A couple of dolphins even got to frolicking inside the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor for a few days!

The real action is out on the Monterey Bay! Join us on board Velocity for a whale watching trip — week days and weekends out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. BUY TICKETS

Here’s an update of what we’ve been seeing this week out in the Monterey Bay.

Over last weekend, Aug 8-9 we saw numerous humpback whales feeding over the canyons nearby Moss Landing– 8 animals surfacing, one calf! And a few pec slaps. Also Friday, 150 or so common dolphins were swimming with the boat, playing alongside the boat, breaching and bow riding.

bigbluelive dolphins monterey 8-7-15

Dolphins Monterey Bay Santa Cruz Whale Watching 8-7-15 Megan Peterson

Monday and Tuesday, August 10-11 we had large groups of humpback whales feeding over the Monterey Canyon. Instead of krill this day they were chasing huge schools of anchovies, right under boat (the water very clear! – We could see them swimming several feet down!) The whales displayed lots of great fluke ups, one energetic breach on Tuesday, many tail throws, some tail slaps. We saw many common dolphins both days. The dolphins were breaching high out of the water and bow riding. Seabirds including a jaeger and albatross.
We also saw the same little humpback calf swimming around; yesterday he followed us and swam under boat!

August 12 – Wednesday we had calm waters, got to see 20+ humpback whales feeding with sea lions…and hundreds of common dolphins.
And today, Friday 8/14 we saw whales! Lots of humpback whales feeding over Monterey Canyon… However the wind came up pretty fast & furious and we had to move out of the area.

Thriving sea life abounds in Monterey Bay!

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Entertaining humpback whales over Monterey Canyon

We’ve found some very entertaining humpback whales over Monterey Canyon this week on Velocity whale watching trips:
Wednesday 7/22: We found 4 humpback whales over the Monterey Canyon, and another individual near to Santa Cruz.
Thursday 7/23: We found 3 humpback whales. One little guy was tail throwing right next to the boat—you could almost touch it!
Friday 7/24: We patiently searched for a while before finding a very active humpback whale over Monterey Canyon. He was shy at first, but then put on quite the performance with several tail throws, and then wowed us with three full body breaches! We also saw California sea lions, sunfish, and a variety of seabirds.
Next trips: Saturday (8am and 12pm), and Sunday, Monday & Wednesday at 12pm. Call 831-427-0230 to reserve your tickets!

mola mola whale watching monterey

Mola Mola, or sunfish spotted from Sea Stag Six on Sunday, July 19. Photo: Megan Peterson

— Catching up with some highlights from last week —

Thursday 7/16: We found 10-12 humpback whales about 8 miles out; it was a long drive out there, but our first glimpse was a double breach! Throughout Most were diving for food, giving us some lovely looks at tail flukes, near and far. Also “logging,” which is a whale just relaxing at the water’s surface. And some splashy tail throws! We also saw Dall’s porpoises – they are so fast! Otters loose from the kelp, sea lions frolicking way out over the Monterey canyon. More humpback whales appeared near to Santa Cruz on our way back to port. Jellyfish dotted the water as the sun was breaking through the morning fog. Great trip!

Tuesday 7/14: We found three humpbacks, lots of flukes! We counted 12 bottlenose dolphins near the Cement Ship at Seacliff State Beach, cruising along with boat. We saw eight Great white sharks, two of which were alongside the boat for several minutes!

Video Great White Sharks with Santa Cruz Whale Watching 7-14-15 M.Peterson

Saturday 7/11: We saw four Humpback whales –one got kind of friendly, approaching the boat for some up-close looks. The highlight of the day was seeing a blue whale! We also got to watch two dozen Pacific white side dolphins out in the Monterey Bay.

Blue Whale, Monterey Bay, June 2012. Photo: Gene Manako

Blue Whale, Monterey Bay, June 2012. Photo:GManako


humpback whale monterey

Santa Cruz has whales, dolphins and sharks

Sunday, July 5, 2015:
Balmy conditions, good visibility through to the sea floor near Santa Cruz. Just east of the Soquel Canyon we found a pod of 12 Risso’s dolphins; we could see them under the water, down about 20 feet. Risso’s are not usually very playful but this day they were leaping or “porpoising,” spy-hopping and acting quite animated for us to see.
We did not have to travel much farther for some beautiful views of humpback whales. We started to see several small groups of 2-3 animals about the middle of Soquel Canyon hear Santa Cruz. We saw breaching, pec slaps, fin slaps, and a few whales swam up to and around the boat. Later we saw a half-dozen harbor porpoises and a raft of about 20 otters in the kelp near Santa Cruz. To top it off there were harbor seals on the docks, soaking up the sun in the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.

©  john c. bruckman

Albatross, Monterey Bay, CA. Photo © john c. bruckman

Monday, July 6, 2015:
On Monday we barely made it out of the harbor before spotting a pair of whales breaching repeatedly, maybe a mile or 2 off shore. As we got closer, we discovered that this was a mom and calf frolicking in the sunshine! They displayed pectoral fin slaps, tail throws, tail slaps, chin slaps, and some breaches as well! Later, a third whale joined the party. On the way home, we spotted a few otters wrapped up in the kelp, aerating their fur with their paws. Great day!

otters jim goff

Otters in the Kelp near Santa Cruz, CA Photo: Jim Goff

Tuesday, July 7, 2015:
Tuesday we had another neat encounter with 20 Risso’s dolphins. The dolphins were in echelon swimming formation- which is all in a row ahead of the boat. We also had fun alongside 6 pacific white sided dolphins bow-riding with the Velocity. In the middle of the bay, near Monterey Canyon we found several humpback whales feeding, some surfacing close to the boat. And one of our favorite pelagic birds: 2 black-footed albatross!

dolphins santa ctuz monterey

Risso’s Dolphins near Santa Cruz CA. Photo: Michael Nelson

On our weekend trips we’ve been visiting South Santa Cruz County near Seacliff State Beach to catch glimpses of the juvenile great white sharks that are spending some time in the area.

sharks santa cruz monterey

Great white sharks visit Santa Cruz County on the Monterey Bay, June/July 2015. Photos: Azure Cohen

sharks 6-30 2 sharks 6-30


We’re also very pleased to report that our local heroes – the Whale Entanglement Team (or WET) successfully freed a humpback whale caught up in fishing line this week. Go Team!

Juvenile Great White Sharks at Seacliff Beach, CA,  July, 2015. Photo: Azure Cohen

It’s Shark Week in Monterey Bay

Catching up on recent sightings from this week: MONDAY 6/29: 8 humpback whales, with several close drive-bys, flukes. 15 Risso’s Dolphin, close good looks  with mother/calf pairs. TUESDAY 6/30: 2 humpbacks, tail throws, peck slapping, and 4 white sharks–one was 10 feet long, right under the boat for two minutes. Wednesday – Friday we checked out more sharks near Santa Cruz, and we continue to see humpback whales feeding and showing beautiful surface behaviors! We had a particularly friendly animal at the bow of the boat on Thursday, what a majestic sight! Join us this summer!

santa cruz whale watching humpback whales

July 3 morning trip Humpback Whales
Photo: Michal Nelson

santa cruz whale watching humpback whales

Morning Trip July 3, 2015. photo Michael Nelson

santa cruz whale watching humpback whales

Humpback Fluke, June 27, 2015 with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. Photo: Jim Goff

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Otters in the Monterey Bay kelp beds. Photo: Jim Goff

santa cruz whale watching humpback whales

Whale spout, June 27, 2015. Photo: Jim Goff

Juvenile Great White Sharks at Seacliff Beach, CA,  July, 2015. Photo: Azure Cohen

Juvenile Great White Sharks at Seacliff Beach, CA, July, 2015. Photo: Azure Cohen

Shark Week in Santa Cruz! Photo: Azure Cohen

Shark Week in Santa Cruz! Photo: Azure Cohen

Archive: Humpback whales, Monterey Bay, CA
July 20, 2014 - Photo: Sean Kelley

Whales, Orca, Sea Turtles, Sharks

Yesterday we saw 5 humpback whales feeding out near Moss Landing, plus a big Male Orca, we got to watch him for about an hour! We also got a glimpse of Leatherback sea turtles and and there were Great White Sharks spotted near Seacliff Beach near Aptos. Today 2 particularly lively humpback whales breaching and tail slapping, showing all how to enjoy Monterey Bay!
What will we see tomorrow? Join us for whale watching! Call 831-427-0230 for reservations/tickets.

Summer Humpback Whales. Photo: Sean Kelly

Monterey Bay humpbacks here for summer

Wednesday, June 24, 2015:
Happy Summer! This weekend marked the official start of summer and our humpback whale feeding season here in Monterey Bay! Father’s Day Sunday we had an awesome whale watching trip: We saw 25 humpback whales throughout the trip. The animals were swimming together in groups of 8 or so, doing close drive-bys. And we had a pair of full-grown whales breaching in tandem right near the boat, out in the center of Monterey Bay.

June Humpbacks. Photo: G. Manako

June Humpbacks. Photo: G. Manako

Monday and Tuesday both were successful sightings of about 10 humpback whales out near Moss Landing, and 2 more near shore off of Capitola. A few curious whales swam near the boat allowing our passengers to enjoy great detailed looks. On Tuesday also saw the mighty Mola Mola (or sunfish) which looked to be at least 1000 pounds!


For more recent sightings updates and photos visit Monterey or join our Facebook Page for more photos and regular notice of upcoming trips.

6-8-15-2 tail slapping

World Oceans Day with humpback whales

What a treat to spend World Ocean Day seeing humpback whales in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Sunny skies and calm ocean conditions added to the beauty of it all. We saw multiple humpback whales doing all types of surface behavior!

whales monterey santa cruz

Humpback whales – tail slaps – Monterey Bay, CA with Santa Cruz Whale Watching (Azure Cohen)

6-8-15-2 tail slapping

orca killer whales monterey wild

A Day with Orcas in Monterey Bay

Sunday, June 1, 2015: The absolute highlight of the weekend was Orca! Sunday we got really lucky and saw Orca! They were a frisky bunch, showing off incredible breaching, tail throwing, and close drive-bys for over an hour! We also witnessed sea lion kill. In total we saw 6 killer whales: 1 male, 3 females, 2 calves all out above Soquel Canyon about 5 miles off shore from Santa Cruz.

orca killer whale wild



Tuesday, June 2, 2015: We found a pair of humpback whales that were quite the crowd pleasers! Multiple breaches, tail lobs, tail throws, pec slaps! Meanwhile a pod of common dolphins crossed paths with us and swam with the boat, bow riding and shooting straight up out of the water! Last but not least, a solo humpback whale right off Rio Del Mar was feeding in the shallows, and demonstrated surface lunge feeding. Great day for humpbacks!

5-31-15 Orca photos: Azure Cohen