Tag Archives: moss landing

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!

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

Jim Goff 6-27-15 unnamed8

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

Photo: Gabe Torres

Humpbacks “wintering” in Monterey Bay

Sightings Report for February 18, 2015:

On Wednesday’s whale watching trip we had a breacher! Several humpback whales who are “wintering” here in Monterey Bay showed us some amazing action, surface behaviors fairly near to the boat. We also saw gray whales.
Tickets available for whale watching this weekend – Saturday at 12pm and Sunday at 11am. Call 831-427-0230.


Humpback & gray whales, common dolphins

Whale and Dolphin Sightings Report

Friday 2/13: We saw 4 gray whales, 1000 common dolphins on our outer Monterey Bay Whale Watching trip. Also got great looks at sea lions and otters in the kelp.

Saturday and Sunday 2/14-15: More gray whales, 6-10 humpback whales, and hundreds of common dolphins!

Monday and Tuesday 2/16-17: Both days we saw 12-15 humpback whales. We watched surface feeding and diving/tail fluking. There were hundreds of common dolphins on Monday, though we saw only about 20 dolphins on our Tuesday outing.

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Join us for year-round marine wildlife adventure! Next whale watching trips are Saturday, February 21st at 12:00 pm, and Sunday the 22nd at 11:00 am. See the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with Santa Cruz Whale Watching!

Welcome back Velocity! Our main tour boat is now powered by new engines that meet the latest EPA standards in clean burning, fuel saving marine motors. Look for Velocity in Dock F at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.

Humpback whale lunge feeding, showing baleen. Santa Cruz Whale Watching archive photo courtesy Peter Bodin, April 2013.

Happy New Year! Humpback whales remain active in Monterey Bay

Happy New Year! Even in late December the humpback whales are still populous in Monterey Bay. Whales are feeding on krill and anchovies out near Moss Landing and over the deep waters at the Monterey Canyon. We’ve been spotting multiple humpback whales each trip!

Migration: We are also now seeing gray whales heading south to their winter breeding & calving grounds in Baja California. Over 10,000 gray whales will pass through our waters this winter as they make the trek south to Baja then back north again in early spring.


Pacific Gray Whale Migration, Alaska to Baja California – Map

For now in Monterey Bay we continue to enjoy the antics of the lingering – and hungry – humpback whales.

Friday, December 26: We saw about 6 humpback whales and also several gray whales on their southbound migration between Alaska and Baja California.

Saturday, December 27: A terrific lunge feeding event in the middle of Monterey Bay. We counted about 30 humpback whales, with a fair amount of close “drive-bys” for amazing looks at the animals.

Tuesday, December 30: A windy day out there, but wonderful sights of the humpback whales lunge feeding. The animals were feeding particularly close by the boat, giving passengers the opportunity to see lunge feeding from the perfect angles, great views of the whale “tongue” and baleen filters.


Introducing our six passenger boat, Sea Stag Six, also available for private, smaller tours.

Happy New Year from all of us at Santa Cruz Whale Watching! We hope to see you soon on board Velocity, or the Sea Stag Six!

humpback whale breach monterey bay

Winter humpbacks, dolphins and gray whales

Saturday, December 20, 2014: Whale Watching on Velocity we saw 15 humpback whales! The whales were breaching, pec slapping, tail throws… Amazing activity!

Sunday, December 21, 2014: We saw 6 humpback whales and around 200 common dolphins! Clear water allowed to see them under the boat as they rode alongside. Then at the end of the trip a small humpback breached by the boat countless times!

Common Dolphins bow riding alongside Velocity. Monterey Bay, CA Photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphins bow riding alongside Velocity. Monterey Bay, CA Photo: Michael Nelson

Tuesday, December 23, 2014: A variety of species today! We saw 4 gray whales and 9 humpback whales. The sun was shining for us today on the 3rd day of winter!

Join us on the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – Fully narrated 3-4 hour whale watching trips depart out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor aboard our 60 foot passenger yacht “Velocity.”


Humpbacks and Dolphins on Sunday

Sunday, November 23, 2014: We started out with some nice humpback whales closer to Santa Cruz, maybe 3 or so. Then we headed out into the Bay and found a pod of at least 600 common dolphins! They were talking and leaping and bow riding…It was awesome!! And THEN we got to watch 6 humpback whales lunging!

Tomorrow our Thanksgiving Day Whale Watching Trip departs at 9:30 AM. CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS or call 831-427-0230.

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.


“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.