Tag Archives: whale watching monterey california

11022543_10205058333031718_2423309734002822533_n - Copy

Gray Whales, 1000 Dolphins

Sunday 2/21/16 Whale Watching on board Velocity, Monterey Bay
2 gray whales – good looks
1 humpback whale – good activity and one breach!
1000 common dolphins – the dolphins were with us the entire trip, in groups small and large, spread out for miles!


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)

6-8-15-2 tail slapping

World Oceans Day with humpback whales

What a treat to spend World Ocean Day seeing humpback whales in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Sunny skies and calm ocean conditions added to the beauty of it all. We saw multiple humpback whales doing all types of surface behavior!

whales monterey santa cruz

Humpback whales – tail slaps – Monterey Bay, CA with Santa Cruz Whale Watching (Azure Cohen)

6-8-15-2 tail slapping

whale watching monterey

Whales and Dolphins Monterey Bay

Saturday, March 21, 2015: Breaching humpback whales! We saw a total of 8 humpbacks across Monterey Bay and near Santa Cruz, plus a small group of common dolphins.

Sunday, March 22, 2015: Counted 12 humpback whales doing every kind of behavior, and 200 common dolphins out in Monterey Bay.

Monday, March 23, 2015: Five gray whales feeding – a rare sight! The gray whales took a migration break to feed in about 35 feet of water just off Santa Cruz, on the north side of Monterey Bay. Also had some close “drive-bys” from the gray whales today. We saw 200 common dolphins – the dolphins were breaching and bow-riding and having a great time!


Whale watching Monterey

3-20-15 Humpback whale breach sequence, Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. Photo Courtesy: Geoff & Tommy Mitchell

IMG_2081 IMG_2082






Gray Whale northbound migration in full swing now through April, early May!
Read 5 fun facts about gray whales http://www.opb.org/news/article/five-insights-into-the-gray-whales-that-migrate-past-oregon-twice-a-year/

Join us for year-round marine wildlife adventure! Next Monterey whale watching trips are Wednesday and Friday this week, and daily whale watching next week for Spring Break starting March 28- April 3. FIND OUR FULL SCHEDULE HERE: https://www.zerve.com/Stagnaros/Whale

Commitment to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Our main tour boat Velocity is now powered by brand new engines that meet the latest EPA standards in clean burning, fuel saving marine motors. These engines are quiet, no gassy smell, and fast!

See the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with Santa Cruz Whale Watching!

Year of the Whale: 2013 brought a marine show unlike any other

By Jason Hoppin
Santa Cruz Sentinel
POSTED:   12/28/2013

MOSS LANDING.– Just when you think nature couldn’t impress you more, something like 2013 happens.

This was year the Monterey Bay turned the dial up to 11, producing a months-long carnival of lunging humpback whales, bird clouds, dolphin wizardry, frenzied sea lions, playful killer whales and even visits from marine royalty — blue whales.

“Best year I’ve ever seen and best year anybody’s seen that I’ve talked to,” said Giancarlo Thomae, a 25-year-old UC Santa Cruz graduate whose near-daily forays onto the bay, by boat or kayak, helped document Mother Nature’s best production in a long time.

The wildlife display on Monterey Bay was selected by Sentinel staff as a top newsmaker in 2013.

The true stars were hundreds of humpback whales that lingered for months in the northeast part of the bay, with some here even still. People crammed tour boats, hopped on paddleboards and leaned out over wharf railings for a glimpse, and were almost universally rewarded with one.

The spectacle was due to the presence of huge numbers of anchovies, epic schools that boat captains said would go on for miles. Their numbers were such that a school even rushed in to the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, leading to an October die-off that fouled the air for weeks.

Why the anchovies? People cited a healthier ocean, a lack of sardines or predators such as salmon and a cool-water cycle coupled with normal upwelling of nutrients from the underwater Monterey Canyon.

“The canyon is just basically a big giant doorway to the open ocean, and it’s right here on our doorstep. That’s what makes it so special,” said Ken Stagnaro of Santa Cruz Whale Watching. “We’re pretty lucky to be here. You get these animals up and down the coast, but not really condensed like this.”

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, first-hand looks at marine life began to rival the interpretive exhibits, the open sea becoming an attraction alongside jellyfish and kelp forests. Guests flocked to an outdoor pavilion for a look at birds, sea otters and especially abundant whales.

“We have a new interpretive station at the Aquarium. We call it ‘Today on the Bay.’ A lot of us said one of the best exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the Monterey Bay itself,” said Jim Covel, director of guest experience training and interpretation. “We’ve got a front-row seat here.”

Photographers such as Thomae and Bonny Doon’s Jodi Frediani procured amazing shots of the activity. Through the Internet and social media, word spread and the photos became apertures into life on the water, a rabbit hole through which the whole world seemed to want to jump.

“Let’s put it this way: before all this happened, there were times when we barely had enough people to go out. It really blew up,” said Thomae, who worked for Sanctuary Cruises Whale Watching this summer. “We had people calling us from Hong Kong, Sydney, all over the world, saying, ‘Oh the whales are thick? I want to go.'”

One Thomae photo showing a local kayak guide, Karen Hatch, framed by the body of a whale went viral. It was featured everywhere from CBS’ “This Morning” to the German news magazine Der Speigel.

Despite widespread TV coverage, tour captains say the biggest impact came when the most traditional of all media, The New York Times, weighed in. The newspaper produced a popular multimedia story on Monterey Bay.

“You know what? Hands down, nothing got the response like when the New York Times article came out,” Stagnaro said. “The phones just went crazy.”

Once near extinction, humpbacks are a species on the rebound. That is one reason Stagnaro thinks they’re here to stay year-round, as long as there’s enough food.

“I don’t expect it to change anytime soon,” he said.

Even around Christmas, the show continued. Normal patterns of migratory grey whales are coming through, but several humpbacks remain in the bay, along with a handful of killer whales.

“Weather permitting, you could see whales for pretty much 365 days in the Monterey Bay during the year,” Thomae said.


Dan Haifley, Our Ocean Backyard: California gray whales now passing through our waters

Whale Watching Monterey California – Monterey CA Whale Watching

Whale Watching Monterey California

By Dan Haifley
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted:   02/01/2013 02:04:20 PM PST

California gray whales are gliding through Central Coast waters on their 5,000 to 6,000 mile trek from their feeding grounds around Alaska’s Bering Sea south to where they rest, breed and give birth in warmer Mexico.

The end of January was the peak of their southward migration although they’re still coming and soon they’ll be heading back our way on their return trip north.

Since December, groups of up to 10 have been spotted at the edge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon while individuals or pairs have been seen closer to shore. They’re best observed from a boat piloted by an experienced whale watching captain and crew.

“Seeing these animals is something that everyone should experience,” said Kenny Stagnaro, owner and skipper of the vessel Velocity, which frequently passes in and out of the Santa Cruz harbor channel for whale watching trips. “They are truly amazing creatures.”

Their southern destinations are warm Baja California waters where females give birth, then nurse and nurture their young. They include but aren’t limited to Laguna San Ignacio, Laguna Guerrero Negro, Laguna Ojo de Liebre and Magdalena Bay.

Mating usually occurs there but it can also happen during their migration south. The gestation period of the gray whale is about a year. Calves are born live at around 15 feet long and 1,500 pounds. They put on weight and grow as they nurse on mother’s milk, more than half of which is fat.

Around the middle of February, the California gray whales head north for summer feeding off Alaska. They primarily feed on a small crustacean called amphipod macrocephela which is nourished by algae that drops from sea ice in the Bering and Chukchi seas. They’ll also eat smaller amphipods, which look like a kind of shrimp under a microscope. If they need nourishment during their migration they forage in the mud, sand and silt at ocean’s bottom, unlike other baleen whales that skim the surface or gulp food in the water column.

The best period for viewing the northward migration is February through May. This leg of their journey tends to be more social and leisurely than the southbound trip. Mothers and calves can be spotted in April and May, and sometimes they travel close enough to shore that they can be seen from high points along the coast.

Their coastal highway gets very busy in both directions as the southern and northern migrations coincide during February, although the southbound whales travel further offshore than the northbound ones do.

They travel from a sea with a water temperature of 38 degrees to lagoons that are 70 degrees. When they leave Alaska they can have 6 to 8 inches of blubber to sustain them on journey. By the time they return they have just 2-3 inches of blubber left. Mothers need more, said Stagnaro, to nurse their young on the trip north.

Their population is a little more than 20,000, an increase from previous years. At maturity, they can be up to 50 feet long and weight up to 40 tons. Some whales can live to be 80 years old.

Observers remark that gray whales are less charismatic than others. That may be true while they are here, but they become animated while feeding off Alaska. While some can be friendly to humans in Baja California, the whales are not as approachable during mating and birthing.

Because the sea off California is their thoroughfare and not a café or playground, grays do not display the personality here that Orcas or Humpbacks do. But their speed and force is constant, said Stagnaro, so finding and following them is easier. “They are very majestic to watch, especially when they breech,” he says.

Dan Haifley is executive director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey. He can be reached at dhaifley@oneillseaodyssey.org.


Buy Whale Watching Monterey California Cruise tickets online at Zerve
Or call Zerve to book your Whale Watching Monterey California trip at (888) 237-7084

You may also call us directly at (831) 427-0230

Santa Cruz Whale Watching is on Google+ – Circle us on Google+