Tag Archives: whales

gray whale monterey

Good Day with Gray Whales

Sunday 3/12/17 — Good Day with Gray Whales

The gray whales led the way on Sunday! We kept our whale watching tour along the coastline, following several sets of gray whales swimming northbound through Monterey Bay. There were plenty of gray whales just 1-2 miles offshore from Santa Cruz — wonderful to see whale spouts over here, there, everywhere! We followed several small groups of whales up the coast towards Davenport; a few groups of two, then a trio of gray whales who were the most active, showing tail flukes (diving),  a spyhop, and other active surface behaviors.

On the way in we got good looks at otters in the kelp beds.  It was a beautiful day on Monterey Bay!

For tickets call 831-427-0230 or visit us online www.santacruzwhalewatching.com

Spring Break Whale Watching Trips run daily April 1-16!

#Monterey #whales #dolphins #birds #wildlife #California #sanfrancisco #santacruz #springbreak

Gray whale, Spring migration, Monterey Bay, 3/23/16. photo Michael Nelson

Albatross, Gray and Humpback Whales

Saturday, April 2: Today the fog burned off early and we set off on board Velocity to see what wildlife we could find in Monterey Bay!
We saw

Four gray whales – 2 pairs — near Santa Cruz
One Black-footed albatross (archive photo John Bruckman)
One humpback whale that was lunge feeding, showing lots of surface behavior: horizontal, vertical lunges and rolling around near to the boat.
one tiny sunfish (mola-mola), and many harbor porpoises and otters.

ALBATROSS JUNE 2015 © john c. bruckman

ALBATROSS JUNE 2015 © john c. bruckman

california sea otter monterey bay 3-23-16

Spring is Here

Spring is here and so are humpback whale arriving for their feeding season in Monterey Bay. Gray whales continue their northbound migration through our local waters, and dolphin & otter babies are learning to keep up with their folks. Here is what we’ve seen lately in Monterey Bay.

Spring Break whale watching trips will be running daily starting next week! Click here to buy tickets.

Humpback fluke 3/23/16 Monterey Bay, March 2016

Humpback fluke 3/23/16 Monterey Bay, March 2016

Wednesday 3/23/16 we saw Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Dolphins (mamas and babies) and our favorite California Sea Otters!

Gray whale, Spring migration, Monterey Bay, 3/23/16. photo Michael Nelson

Gray whale, Spring migration, Monterey Bay, 3/23/16. photo Michael Nelson

3/20/16 For Sunday’s trip, the best report came from one of our passengers, who wrote, “We had clear skies, a smooth trip, and good sightings. There was a small group of about 20 common dolphins porpoising. We then saw a yearling humpback surfacing then diving to feed near the canyon. Later, we came upon another young humpback.”

Saturday 3/19 we saw 500 common dolphins, 3 humpback whales — close drive-bys, lots of flukes, plus otters!

And on Thursday 3/18 we saw otters, lots of dolphins and 6 humpback whales out in Monterey Bay. One of the whales was lunge feeding. Lovely!

Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, March 2016 Michael Nelson

Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay, March 2016

Monterey Bay, 3/23/16 photo Michael Nelson

Monterey Bay, 3/23/16 photo Michael Nelson

humpback.march16-2014.photo-JENN BYRD-ok to use verbal ok

Grays, Humpbacks, Common Dolphins

Monday 2/29/16 We saw 2 gray whales, 1 humpback whale, 20-40 common dolphins; a beautiful day!

Santa Cruz Whale Watching offers Whale Watching on Monterey Bay March, April, and year-round. Our tours (3.5-4 hours) are fully narrated by our captain along with an on-board naturalist. Marine wildlife can be observed in Monterey Bay year-round. In late winter/spring we see the northbound migration of gray whales, traveling from Baja to Alaska, which often includes sightings of mothers with newborn calves. It is also possible to see humpback whales arriving for their summer feeding season in Monterey Bay.

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.


November Whale Watching Monterey

Last trip was Saturday, Nov 14 – Another great outing on Monterey Bay, and we didn’t have to travel far for wildlife action. We saw 8 humpback whales within 3 miles of Santa Cruz, feeding, and tail throwing. Then we saw 300 common dolphins out near the Soquel Canyon, bow riding and jumping. Great trip!

monterey whale watching

Feeding Humpbacks, with Santa Cruz Whale Watching. Photo: Nancy Costa

Join us this weekend! CALL 831-427-0230
Friday, Nov 20 at 11:00 AM
Saturday, Nov 21 at 12:00 PM
Sunday Nov 22 at 12:00 PM

Next Week Holiday Schedule:
Tues 11/24 at 10:00 AM, Wed 11/25 at 11:00 AM, Thanksgiving Day 11/26 at 9:30 AM and Friday 11/27 at 12:00 PM

$47.95 adults and $32.95 kids age 4-13. Infants age 0-3 ride free!

Get your Monterey whale watching tickets now ~ Buy online
or call 831-427-0230

Velocity, Star of Stagnaro Charter Boats on Monterey Bay

Velocity, Star of Stagnaro Charter Boats on Monterey Bay

Orca Monterey Bay

September Highlights Orcas, Whales, Dolphins

What an amazing month for whale watching in Monterey Bay! Plenty of humpback whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and a special day with Orcas! Plus a pair-trio of humpbacks took up residence very near shore in Santa Cruz, feeding on schools of anchovies near West Cliff Drive for over a week. Here are some highlights from September.

Fri, 9-25-15.
Yesterday whale watching we saw humpbacks everywhere we looked! At least 30 whales!

Wed, 9-21-15.
Bottlenose Dolphins in the harbor. Hundreds of Common Dolphins, bow riding, riding the wake. Many groups of multiple Humpbacks feeding, feeding, feeding. Partial lunge feed. WOW!

humpbacl whale monterey

Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds

Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds 2 Santa Cruz Whale Watching 9-21-15 M.Reynolds 3



Wed, 9-16-15.
One of September’s most memorable trips! We had a group of 7 orca near the boat! Epic show today! 7 orcas by the boat; orcas were picking on a humpback whale and on a shark, and we got to see an orca breach! Countless lunge feeding humpback whales.
Common dolphins and sunfish, too!

Orca Monterey Bay

Wild and free Orca! 9-16-15, Monterey Bay.
Photo Nico Ientile

The whales at West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz were amazing! Check out this VIDEO by RitaZero

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

orca killer whales monterey wild

A Day with Orcas in Monterey Bay

Sunday, June 1, 2015: The absolute highlight of the weekend was Orca! Sunday we got really lucky and saw Orca! They were a frisky bunch, showing off incredible breaching, tail throwing, and close drive-bys for over an hour! We also witnessed sea lion kill. In total we saw 6 killer whales: 1 male, 3 females, 2 calves all out above Soquel Canyon about 5 miles off shore from Santa Cruz.

orca killer whale wild



Tuesday, June 2, 2015: We found a pair of humpback whales that were quite the crowd pleasers! Multiple breaches, tail lobs, tail throws, pec slaps! Meanwhile a pod of common dolphins crossed paths with us and swam with the boat, bow riding and shooting straight up out of the water! Last but not least, a solo humpback whale right off Rio Del Mar was feeding in the shallows, and demonstrated surface lunge feeding. Great day for humpbacks!

5-31-15 Orca photos: Azure Cohen