Whale watching in Monterey Bay is the marine equivalent of going on a safari in Africa. The diversity on the Monterey Bay is pretty amazing. In addition to the whales that migrate seasonally through the area, such as humpbacks, blue whales and gray whales, many other whale species are visible throughout the year. It’s not unusual for whale watchers to spot a fin or minke whale. The rarely observed beaked whale, which dives for up to an hour at a time, has been known to make a cameo appearance, as has the occasional sperm whale.
Imagine standing on the deck of a boat with your camera, as you witness one of the most fascinating sea mammals surface the waters. Whale watching is a unique and educational experience for both adults and children.
Monterey Bay is a popular whale watching location due to the fact that it contains the largest and most productive canyon in North America. The canyon reaches an amazing depth of 12,000 feet, allowing deep water species such as whales to migrate to and feed on the abundance of fish and squid. Other marine animals such as dolphins and sea lions can also be seen in the same area.
The whales will give you a performance of your lifetime, slapping their tails 500 feet away from the boat. They exert different motions, including slapping their fins against the water, lie on their backs, and hop vertically above water. Keep your camera and camcorder ready to catch them performing an acrobatic movement called breaching, propelling their massive body really high above the water. Sometimes they twirl around and slap the water on their way down.
Among the whales that are seen, the most commonly observed are humpback Wales. Humpback whales are very intelligent and curious animals, and often approach the boats. By law, the captain cannot move the boat until the whales have moved away.
Tips for First Time Whale Watching:
1. Best time to go is April-Nov: During the summer/fall months of April-November, you will be able to see different types of whales, including the humpback whales, minke whales, killer whales, mighty blue whales, as well as different species of dolphins. Other sea mammals also feed in the area including sea lions, seals, pelicans, sharks, and sea turtles.
2. It’s always much colder on the water than it is on land. If it looks sunny, it’s often colder because of a breeze on the bay. Weather conditions can be different than on land. It’s a good idea to wear a waterproof jacket, gloves, and even a beanie. Wear sunscreen and shades. You will be exposed to the sun since the boat is going to be out in the middle of the ocean. It’s extremely bright and sunlight will reflect off the ocean. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen! Remember, you can still get sunburn on a foggy day.
3. Take sea-sickness medication: Prepare for your whale watching excursion by taking seasickness medication at least an hour before boarding your boat. This will give the medication time to take effect and ensure that you can enjoy the whale watch without getting queasy. If you prefer to avoid medications, ginger tea or capsules can be an effective and natural anti-nausea remedy.
4. There are snack bars available on the boats, but you can also bring your own food. Wear flat, rubber-soled shoes. The deck is likely to get wet as you sail, which can be slippery and dangerous. Wear rubber-soled shoes! Do not wear leather-soled shoes, flip flops, or high heels.
5. Secure your camera or binoculars. Make sure your camera, camcorders, or binoculars have a strap.
General Prices: $40-Adults, $27-Children
FREE for children less than 3 years of age
The Boat Tours in Monterey for Whale Watching:
The boats take you to the whale viewing area where you’ll experience the thrill of 45 ton whales surfacing near your boat. The experienced captains know how to approach these animals safely and encourage them to come closer. The tour guides, also called “naturalists” on board will entertain you with some fascinating facts about the animal’s behaviors, different species classifications, and their migration patterns. This is a great opportunity for your children to learn about the wildlife.
Many whale watching companies are open daily throughout the holiday season except Christmas Day. Some of the most famous are Monterey Bay Whale Watch, Princess Monterey Whale Watching, Randy’s Whale Watching Trips, Chris’ Whale Watching and many more. Experience adventures on the high seas where you can participate in deep sea fishing or catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales.
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