Tag Archives: santa cruz whale watching


Fall-Winter Sightings

We loved having so many family groups out on the boat this week. Each day of Thanksgiving week we got some great views of 10-20 humpback whales that are active in Monterey Bay right now. These humpback whales are feeding and showing surface behaviors such as tail slaps and breaching above the water.  We’re getting to see big pods of common dolphins, otters in the kelp beds, and California sea lions. Our cover photo is from passenger Matija Vižin, taken on Tuesday 11/22 when we saw 10 humpback whales – one full breach! – Good looks, lots of flukes.

We’ve had a certain population of humpbacks staying around over winter for the last several years. As long as they are able to eat they will stay in  the area instead of participating in migration to Central America.

We’ll soon be keeping an eye out for gray whales migrating south towards their winter mating/calving waters in Baja, Mexico. Over 20,000 gray whales pass through Monterey Bay every year!

Santa Cruz Whale Watching Trips run every weekend in December, and DAILY from December 23 – New Year’s Day. Join us for adventure on the Bay!

Tickets are $48.95 for adults and $34.95 for kids age 4-13. Reservations recommended; Call 831-427-0230 or click the link to Book Online Now.

Beautiful day up close with humpback whales: VIDEO

Tuesday, Sept. 27 – Mama and baby humpback playing with us today! Calf was breaching and pec slapping. Humpback whales are scattered, feeding throughout the Bay.

Monday, Sept. 26– We found whales! 7-8 humpback whales and ~100 sea lions center of Monterey Bay.


Every day is different! Blue, Fin and Humpback Whales

Friday, July 15, 2016 ~ Sightings this week:

Endless humpback whales
2 fin whales
4 blue whales
Pod of common dolphins

Join us this weekend! Whale Watching trips run daily – buy online at http://santacruzwhalewatching.com

Thursday, July 14:
Quite a few Humpback whales over Monterey Canyon … we spotted 2 Blue Whales! … and the Sharks continue to fascinate.

Wednesday, July 13:
8 Humpback whales
12 Risso’s dolphins
20 Bottlenose dolphins
Lots of Sharks 6-10 feet long!
Whale Watching trips run daily through July – Call 831-427-0230

Friday, July 8:

Humpback Whales, Santa Cruz, CA

Fun week on Monterey Bay!

Sunday 7/3 — 6 humpback whales at Soquel — a single whale we call “Barney” and friend lunge feeding off Aptos — White shark at cement ship.
Saturday 7/2 — 4 humpback whales — dolphins!
Friday 7/1 — Humpback whales feeding near Soquel
Thursday 6/30 — Sharks and Orcas


Special Sighting – Fin Whales

June 1, 2016
Yesterday Fin Whales 2 by 2 cruised by the boat! That’s a rare sighting this close in. We’ve seen countless feeding blue whales and endless flirty humpbacks all week… We’ve been watching the blues just 3-4 miles out from Santa Cruz!

Fin Whales Santa Cruz Monterey Bay

Fin Whales 2 by 2 just a few miles out from Santa Cruz – photo Jenn Yuhas

We’ve noticed an unusual blue whale surface behavior: a sort of “charge” where they gain speed and blast across the water’s surface.
Join us this weekend to see the amazing wildlife of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary!

whale watching monterey blue

Blue whales are the stars this week

We’ve had amazing BLUE WHALES in big numbers on all trips this week!

Wednesday, May 25 — Surrounded by BLUE WHALE spouts today- showing flukes today near Santa Cruz! Also, humpback whales in the bay! A few were tail-throwing and pec-slapping at the surface.

Sunday, May 22 –Many blue whales again. Wonderful sightings – they are quite actively diving to feed in the deep waters, giving as great flukes. Humpback whales also active in the bay.

Saturday, May 21 — 15 Blue Whales!! Diving; great looks at flukes. Plus otters, sea lions, migrating birds and dolphins!

Blue whale tail Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Blue whale tail Monterey Bay, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching, Photo: Michael Nelson

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Earlier in May we had a week with large groups of active Orcas, hunting in Monterey Bay. It is amazing to see these fantastic “killer whales” out in nature.

Monterey Bay Orca

Monterey Bay Orcas Photo: Michael Nelson

Monterey Bay Orca Santa Cruz Whale Watching

Monterey Bay Orcas Photo: Michael Nelson

Monterey whale watching

Humpback whale pectoral fin


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!

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

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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!

photo Michael Nelson.

Humpback whales near Santa Cruz

Saturday and Sunday we had 10-15 humpback whales each day, most whales are in the north bay on the Santa Cruz side of Monterey Bay. On Sunday, March 1, we had lunge feeding humpback whales at the surface, and witnessed several breaches in the distance. We saw 500-1000 common dolphins on both trips out this weekend! Today reports from the harbor that humpback whales can be seen breaching and lunge feeding on anchovies just a few miles offshore. Tickets available for whale watching trips this weekend: CLICK HERE TO BUY ONLINE

Double rainbow on Saturday! photo: Michael Nelson

Double rainbow at the harbor on Saturday! photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whale, Monterey Bay  on Saturday 2/28/15 photo: Michael Nelson

Humpback whale, Monterey Bay on Saturday 2/28/15 photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, 2/28/15 photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, 2/28/15 photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphin, Monterey Bay, March 1, 2015. photo: Michael Nelson

Common Dolphin, Monterey Bay, March 1, 2015. photo: Michael Nelson

photo: Michael Nelson

Dolphins and Birds! photo: Michael Nelson

Photos courtesy Michael Nelson. Thanks!

Don’t forget the time change this weekend! Clocks “Spring Forward” overnight on March 8th.