What We See When: the Seasons of Marine Life
When is the best time to come?
Different species of whales and dolphins use Monterey Bay year-round, so you are likely to see cetaceans any time you come. Gray whales migrate along the coast in winter (December to May) and humpbacks, blue whales, and others feed here in the productive season, May through November. Orcas and dolphins are possible in any month.
When is the best season for humpbacks and blue whales?
The spring-summer-fall productive season attracts lots of humpbacks from May through November (and a few even in winter). Blue whales are particular about krill and are mainly seen when there is a good krill bloom, which is unpredictable within the productive season. Fin whales, minke whales, and rare sei whales are sometimes seen too.
When is the best season for orcas/killer whales?
Three ecotypes of killer whales use this coast and sightings are possible any time of year. The most frequent sightings are mid-April through mid-May when they use Monterey Bay to ambush migrating gray whale calves, and also in October.
When is the best season for gray whales?
Gray whales spend their summer feeding season in the Arctic and are seen migrating to and from their breeding lagoons in Baja California all winter, from December through May.
What other marine life could we see on the trip?
Monterey Bay is a phenomenally productive ecosystem that attracts many species of seabirds, seals, baleen whales, dolphins, beaked whales, sea turtles, migratory fish, and many types of jelly organisms. We enjoy all the forms of life out there and will happily tell you all we know about whatever we see.
1. Moss Landing (Spring, Summer, Fall)
North Harbor Public Boat Launch Ramp — near Sea Harvest Restaurant
and Monterey Bay Kayaks
(2486 Highway One, Moss Landing, CA)
2. Monterey Harbor (Winter)
Breakwater Cove Marina — near Coast Guard Pier
and Monterey Bay Boatworks
(32 Cannery Row, Monterey CA)