Recent Sightings Archives

Friday – Orcas

Friday 9/23/16: Today we found 2 Orcas! Nice looks at “Fat Fin” and a buddy out in the Bay. Also humpback whales, and a pod of common dolphins on the way back in.

Wednesday9/21/16 – Windy out there, but we found whales – a humpback whale breached for us! And plenty of dolphins and otters along the way.

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

Feeding humpbacks, dolphins, sea lions, birds

Tuesday 9/20/16: Late season humpback whales are feeding around the Monterey Bay Canyon.  Today we found 10 humpbacks feeding all together – we were near enough for some close “drive-bys,” and energetic surface behaviors! Plenty of spouts, pec slaps,  great looks at flukes as the whales dove down below the water.

Two species of dolphin joined in the feeding – Pacific white-sided dolphins and short-beaked common dolphins, along with a big pack of California sea lions.

Birds, too! We saw a black-footed albatross, and many shearwater spp.

5-23-16 2

Fluking humpback whale. Monterey Bay, CA Photo Tina Hughes

Risso’s dolphins, baby bottlenose, humpback whales

Friday 9/16 Today’s trip started with bow-riding bottlenose dolphins right outside the harbor, including a new-born dolphin and mom! 6 humpbacks out over the canyon on the north side, fluking up – some close drive bys for good looks at the whales.

Wednesday 9/14 Humpback whales feedings, plus 500 Risso’s Dolphins, jumping and breaching!

Monday 9/12 Humpback whales breaching, rail-slapping and pec slapping behaviors; nice close-up looks!

Wild Orca, Monterey Bay - April 13, 2016. Photo: Michael Nelson

Orcas again today!

Saturday, September 10:
There are several groups of humpback whales feeding just offshore from the Santa Cruz Harbor, but the highlight today were orcas! The orca put on a good show for our morning whale watching trip.

Humpback whales are still here in Monterey Bay feeding closer to shore, as well as over the canyon. Conditions are lending themselves for surface feeding! We’ve seen a good amount of lunge feeding from some pretty big whales. They’re at their heaviest for the season. Dolphin sightings have included Risso’s and Long-beaked Common dolphins, as well as several harbor porpoise. There are still jellies around, and we’ve seen a few mola molas too.

9/7 Wednesday – Humpbacks lunge feeding – nice close looks. To start the trip we were joined by a large pod of Risso’s Dolphins alongside theboat

9/5 Monday – Labor Day – 10 humpback whales lunge feeding, and Orcas!

9/4 Sun – Orcas swimming, bow riding under the boat!

**National Geographic Humpback Whale Gallery**
This week, many populations of humpback whale have been removed from the endangered species list, which is wonderful news! Our Monterey “Pacific Coast” population remains threatened, however. Enjoy this wonderful photo gallery of our beloved humpback whale!

If these images are not enough, check out the gorgeous photography show at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, located just a few blocks from the Harbor!
California: At the Water’s Edge
Nature and underwater photography exhibit runs until Nov. 13.
Where: Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, 1305 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. Website: or call 831-420-6115


Dolphins, Blues, Humpback Whales VIDEO

Here is some great video of lunge feeding. The bright pink baleen can be seen as the whale reaches the surface.

Monday, August 29
We started the trip accompanied by a pod of 100 common dolphins, bow riding and traveling along with us through Monterey Bay! Later we found about 10 humpback whales and one blue whale. Today they were diving deep for food! But we got to see flukes and close looks while they were at the surface.

Saturday & Sunday August 27/28
The last two days we’ve had awesome looks at blue whales! Blue whales are in Monterey Bay is large numbers this season, and they are friendly! They’ll swim close to the boat for great looks, and some have been seen lunge feeding!

Also we’ve had very active humpback whales – lunge feeding and showing wonderful surface behaviors. Today one humpback whale was doing a circus routine: a triple tail slap, 3 head throws, and then 3 breaches which it repeated and repeated.   Amazing!

We also had Risso’s dolphins further out in the bay.

Continue to see Blues and Humpback Whales




Blue Whales Monterey Bay 2016. Photo: Travis Norton

“Every blue whale is here right now!”

Sightings Report Friday 8/5 – Thursday 8/11

Oh, Wow! ~ 15 Blue whales and twice as many humpback whales all around us now! “I think every blue whale in the greater Monterey Bay Area is here right now!”

5 Blue whales
Many humpback whales ~ awesome day!

Both days we spent some lovely time with a mother humpback and her 20 ft calf, tandem diving near Pajaro.

Humpback whale breach! photo: Amanda Kreft

Humpback whale breach! photo: Amanda Kreft

7 Fin whales
Dahl’s porpoises
Breaching humpback whale close to Santa Cruz!

Fin Whale, August 5, 2016. Monterey Bay, CA Photo: Michael Nelson

Fin Whale, August 5, 2016. Monterey Bay, CA Photo: Michael Nelson

Breaching humpback whale, July 23, Monterey Bay.  Photo: Buss Marple

Monterey Bay has it all!

Wednesday, July 27:
1 Fin whale, and a very friendly humpback whales swam alongside the boat for a while

Tuesday, July 26:
3 charming blue whales
1 friendly Fin whale
4 humpback whales one of which did a lot of tail slapping behavior
whale behaviors snapshot
Whale Surface Behaviors (Image Copyright Rainforest Publications)

Saturday, July 23:
20+ humpback whales
3 blue whales
Dozen Risso’s dolphins
Dozen Bottlenose dolphins
5 white sharks

BlueWhale-5 Buss Marple 7-23-16

BlueWhale-5 Buss Marple 7-23-16

Friday, July 22:
2 breaching humpback whales ~100 yards from the boat.
Many whales surfaced close by, showing pec-slaps 20 yards from the boat! Very friendly whales today.
2 sharks off New Brighton Beach — 5 foot and 8 foot long — drifting nearby the boat.

White shark 7-22-16 Michael Nelson

White shark 7-22-16 Michael Nelson

Thursday, July 21:
On Legacy:
1 breaching humpback
White sharks
Several sea otters

On Velocity:
2 Blue whales
Risso’s dolphins
8 Humpback whales

Wednesday, July 20:
A colossal blue whale! ~90 feet long
Several humpback whales sprinkled around the bay
7 white sharks – one was at least 9 feet long!
Small pod of foraging common dolphins
Lots of mola-mola (sunfish) and jellies

Sunday, July 17:
5 blue whales
60 humpbacks near Soquel Hole
Almost every type of surface behavior!

Friday, July 15:
Endless humpback whales
2 Fin whales
4 blue whales
Pod of common dolphins

Wednesday, July 13:
8 humpback whales
12 Risso’s dolphins
20 bottlenose dolphins
Lots of white sharks at Aptos

Friday, July 8:
1 Orca (killer whale)
2 white sharks
5 humpback whales
200 common dolphins

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