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Continue to see Blues and Humpback Whales




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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Blue Whale, Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Gorgeous blue whale, humpback whales, playful common dolphins

4/17/16: Sunday Sightings: 20 humpback whales spread out, feeding throughout the Bay, some fun surface behaviors including tail and pec slaps. On the way back in we were joined by a large pod of common dolphins, swimming along side the boat and riding surf!


Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching, April 17, 2016. photo” M. Nelson


Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching, April 17, 2016. photo” M. Nelson

4/16/16 Saturday Sightings: 6 humpback whales and one mighty blue whale!!

4/14/16 Thursday we were visited by a trio of humpback whales; they gave us super close-up looks, feeding on krill, and pec/tail-slapping. We saw a few albatross and lots of California sea otters in the kelp.

Humpback, Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Humpback “tail slap” Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching, April 17, 2016. photo” M. Nelson

Over the last few weeks, we’ve had several days with amazing views of Orca in the wild. Here is some fantastic video from our April 3rd trip. ORCA VIDEO by Franzi Samanek

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.

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.


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.

Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15
Photo: Michael Nelson

Humpbacks and Orca thrill on Monterey Bay

It’s been an active week on Monterey Bay with large groups of humpback whales lunge feeding on schools of anchovies, along with common dolphins, sea lions, birds, and a special encounter with orca! Here’s a recap of this week’s sightings with Santa Cruz Whale Watching tours.

Tuesday, Aug 25
Groups of 8-10 humpback whales lunge feeding repeatedly for over 2 hours! We had a pod of common dolphins mixed in with the whales. The dolphins were swimming with the boat alongside sea lions, and many feeding birds. One of the humpback whales was rolling around in the bait ball, showing off belly and ventral pleats—creases that run vertically down the underside of a whale’s jaw all the way to its stomach. When feeding, the ventral pleats expand like an accordion to accommodate a huge amount of food-rich water.

Thursday, Aug 27
We found a group of 3-4 humpback whales that were particularly friendly among more whales spread out across the bay. These animals were “lazy” feeding at the surface – one would just poke his snout out with a mouthful of anchovies, then slowing descend back down… We had more common dolphins that stayed with the boat all day! As we were starting to head back to Santa Cruz Harbor, we were intercepted by a single humpback whale doing tail throws and then several minutes of tail slaps!

Friday, Aug 28
Oh boy! On Friday there were more humpbacks sighted, “lazy” feeding on the abundant anchovies as before, but today’s whale watchers had a special treat with a group of four Orcas! There were two males accompanying a mother/calf pair. The orcas even spent a few minutes near to the boat, swimming under the boat in clear conditions – you could see them under the water! One passenger reported feeling the spray from their blowhole!

Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15 Photo: Michael Nelson

Orca Monterey Bay 8-28-15
Photo: Michael Nelson

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Orca photos courtesy Michael B. Nelson

Don’t Miss the new PBS special “BIG BLUE LIVE” airing Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday on your local PBS station. It’s all about the amazing wildlife and ecosystems of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary that we get to enjoy every day! Tune in then come out with us on our beautiful boat Velocity!  BUY TICKETS HERE

Humpbacvk whale visits passengers on board Velocity, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Humpback whale visits passengers on board Velocity, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

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!