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Whale Watching

Gray Whale
Gray Whale - Eschrichtius robustus
Photo by Merrill Gosho, NOAA


There are two broad whale-watching "seasons" for our area - the Gray Whale season from December to April and the summer/fall season for the other whales. Whale-watching is typically done on a whale-watching boat trip. However it is certainly possible to see whales from the shore if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Between mid-December and April is the time when the Gray Whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are seen on their annual migration, on the West coast, betweeen their Arctic feeding grounds and their breeding grounds in Baja California. They migrate South in December/January. They travel North in March/April, when mothers with calves can often be seen. Gray Whales can be seen quite easily on whale-watching trips.

Whale Watching Operators

>> Monterey Bay Whale Watch
Specializes in trips Monterey Bay originating from Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey. They have reports of recent sightings of marine life in Monterey Bay.
>> Oceaanic Society Whale Watch
Trips originating from Half Moon Bay, San Francisco and Bodega Bay.
Whale Watching
Whale Watching
Photo by Joe Nazar, San Francisco Whale Tours
>> San Francisco Whale Tours
Trips to the Farallon Islands originating from Fort Mason, San Francisco.
>> Sanctuary Cruises
Specializes in trips in Monterey Bay originating from Moss Landing. The Captain's Blog provides details from recent trips.
>> SF Bay Whale Watching
Specializes in trips to the Farallon Islands originating from San Francisco. They have a nice blog with details about past sightings.

Articles/Links about Whale Watching in the Bay Area

  • Journey North has a great map about Gray Whale migration, with current sightings. 
  • Orca whales attacking a Gray Whale in Monterey Bay - detailed photographic account by Don Roberson. 
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