Recent Sightings Archives

winter gray whales

Gray Whale Migration

1/18/16 There are lots of gray whales migrating southbound along the Monterey Bay shoreline. Over the last week, large pods of dolphins and Orcas (killer whales) were also spotted in the bay. This is a good time for to see ocean birds, too, such as albatross, shearwaters, cormorants, brandts, loons and more!

Winter until the spring is Gray Whale season in Monterey Bay. The chance of sighting California Gray Whales cross Monterey Bay during this period is around 90% as they migrate from cold arctic waters to the warm Baja Peninsula.

20,000 California gray whales make their annual migration from Alaska to Baja California each winter

20,000 California gray whales make their annual migration from Alaska to Baja California each winter

gray whale

Gray Whale, Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz. Photo: Teddy Daligga. January 15, 2012 (Stagnaro archive)

Gray Whale, Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz. Photo: Teddy Daligga. January 15, 2012 (Stagnaro archive)

Lunge feeding whales, leaping dolphins

Great trips over the Thanksgiving Weekend

Saturday 11/28 We found a trio of humpback whales as they fed offshore near Moss Landing. We had nice close up looks at tails and blow holes. One curious calf passed very close to the boat! Everyone got a great look at his entire “little” – 20 foot long – body.

Friday 11/27 Lots of lunge feeding activity off of Wilder Ranch, a few miles offshore. Spotted ~ 7 humpback whales, plus a few hundred common dolphins doing their usual leaping and bow riding! The dolphins were also fairly close to the Santa Cruz shore. We saw sea lions, sea otters and some of the humpback whales swam nearby to the boat.

humpback whales monterey whale watching tour

11-28-15 Humpback whales lunge feeding, Monterey Bay. Photo Karen Ewart

WATCH VIDEO What a wonderful whale watching moment from August 2015. Rick W, Thanks for posting the video and for your Yelp review! Humpback breaches close to Santa Cruz Whale Watching tour boat. WATCH VIDEO Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Monterey Bay


Common Dolphins can be observed in very large groups and are generally found in warmer waters. They are found worldwide.

The Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is a species of Common Dolphin. It has a larger range than the Long-beaked Common Dolphin (D. capensis), occurring throughout warm-temperate and tropical oceans, with the possible exception of the Indian Ocean. There are more Short-beaked Common Dolphins than any other dolphin species in the warm-temperate portions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The color pattern on the body is unusual. The back is dark and the belly is white, while on each side is an hourglass pattern colored light grey, yellow or gold in front and dirty grey in back.

Monterey whale watching is full of amazing delights! No two trips are the same. Whale watching on Monterey Bay trips depart out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor every weekend, year round. Winter whale watching we have some humpbacks might remain in the bay over winter. We are soon looking to see gray whales on migration from Alaska to Baja California.

monterey whale watcing dolphins

This Friday #OptOutside with Whale Watching

IN the sprit of the #‎OptOutside‬ campaign to get out in Nature instead of shopping, we invite you to join us whale watching on Friday, Nov 27. Forget the mall; enjoy the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary!

Tickets available online or call 831-427-0230

Tuesday 11/24 Today another good show – We saw humpback whales and dolphins both – Singing in the rain!
November 20-22: On all recent trips we’ve had scattered humpback whales not too far out of Santa Cruz. Whales are feeding and showing off a few good breaches, pec slapping. On Friday a nursery pod of common dolphins, bow riding, breaching, chirping. Sea otters lounging in the kelp.


Orca video goes viral!
We got picked up on TV’s Right This Minute! Crew member Damian Alcarez’ video is certainly compelling. Wild free killer whales healthy living in Monterey Bay.


November Whale Watching Monterey

Last trip was Saturday, Nov 14 – Another great outing on Monterey Bay, and we didn’t have to travel far for wildlife action. We saw 8 humpback whales within 3 miles of Santa Cruz, feeding, and tail throwing. Then we saw 300 common dolphins out near the Soquel Canyon, bow riding and jumping. Great trip!

monterey whale watching

Feeding Humpbacks, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. Photo: Nancy Costa

Join us this weekend! CALL 831-427-0230
Friday, Nov 20 at 11:00 AM
Saturday, Nov 21 at 12:00 PM
Sunday Nov 22 at 12:00 PM

Next Week Holiday Schedule:
Tues 11/24 at 10:00 AM, Wed 11/25 at 11:00 AM, Thanksgiving Day 11/26 at 9:30 AM and Friday 11/27 at 12:00 PM

$47.95 adults and $32.95 kids age 4-13. Infants age 0-3 ride free!

Get your Monterey whale watching tickets now ~ Buy online
or call 831-427-0230

Velocity, Star of Stagnaro Charter Boats on Monterey Bay

Velocity, Star of Stagnaro Charter Boats on Monterey Bay

Wild Orcas Monterey Bay 11-12-15

Video captures Monterey Bay wild Orcas visit with whale watching boat

Here it is! We had an amazing interaction with orcas on Thursday, 11/12/15. An adult along with a juvenile orca, or killer whale, came right up the the whale watching boat Velocity to give us a little spray. Crew member Damian’s footage captures it all!

Orca, or Killer Whales, can be seen at any time but are unpredictable. They are however most common during April, May, and June as they predate on northbound migrating Gray Whales, usually mother and newborn calves. Killer Whales are found worldwide. Most Orca seen in Monterey Bay are the “Transient” type somewhat nomadic, feeding on marine mammals.

Photo: Michael Nelson

Orcas Active in Monterey Bay

Thursday, Nov 12 — Today was the ultimate whale watching adventure on Monterey Bay, with humpback whales, dolphins, and orcas! We enjoyed crisp, clear conditions, sunny skies, and…

10 Humpback Whales — A few miles outside the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor we found a pod of feeding humpback whales, including one surface lunge.

100s of Dolphins — We went a little further, and found a pod of 400-500 common dolphins. The dolphins were frolicking, breaching, and chirping to each other.

Killer Whales/Orcas — Even further out we found a pod of at least 8 orcas, which had recently made a kill, and were teasing two very distressed humpbacks while doing tail slaps and drive-bys of the boat. Some passengers got misted by orca breath!

Common Dolphins Photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphins Photo: Michael Nelson

Amazing Monterey whale watching! Whale watching Monterey trips depart out of Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor at the north tip of Monterey Bay. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is vibrant with healthy wildlife: humpback whales, orca killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds, jellies, otters and the beautiful view of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Next Monterey Whale Watching trips – Tickets available!

Saturday 11/14 at 12:00 PM
Sunday 11/15 at 12:00 PM
Tickets $47.95 ADULTS, $32.95 kids age 4-13.
or call 831-427-0230

Humpbacks near Santa Cruz, Baby Dolphins

11/11 Wednesday
10 humpback whales today, some friendly whales approached nearby the boat for great looks. The whales were a bit closer in to Santa Cruz, about 5 miles offshore. During the later part of the trip we found 3-4 humpbacks lunge feeding near Santa Cruz. Also saw about 100 common dolphins – many young ones tagging along with mama dolphins!

Humpbacks still here! Lots of great whale watching in Monterey Bay!

Humpback Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins

Thursday – We spotted nine humpback whales feeding in Monterey Bay offshore from the Pajaro River mouth, showing tail throw surface behaviors. Monterey whale sightings included a mother humpback whale and her calf. Heading home we found a pair of bottlenose dolphins near Pleasure Point, we got a good look at them frolicking in Monterey Bay!

Humpback whale mid-tail throw, Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Humpback whale mid-tail throw, Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching


This week Orcas, whales and dolphins

Tuesday – Today we found quite a few humpback whales, with several “drive-bys” close to the boat for amazing looks.

Saturday we saw a FIN WHALE , 100s of common dolphins, many humpback whales in middle of Monterey Bay.

Friday we had a special treat – came across 4 ORCAS! We were able to watch them for about 10-15 minutes. Plus 10 humpback whales – even a few breaches!

10-13-14 Gabe Torres

Breaching whale, Monterey Bay. Photo: Gabe Torres

Orca, Monterey Bay 10-23-15

Orca, Monterey Bay 10-23-15 Photo: Michael Nelson

Wednesday’s whale watching trip we had 100’s of common dolphins, plus a friendly curious humpback whale that spent a long time near to the boat for wonderful wildlife viewing. Humpbacks were spotted near Santa Cruz, too – offshore from 26th Ave and another whale about a mile offshore from Lighthouse Point.