It’s a great time for whale watching on the Central Coast

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

whale watching

See multiple species of whales and sea mammals

The California coast offers opportunities to see a variety of species of whales from early spring to summer. What a thrill to be out on the ocean enjoying a day’s sail and to witness one of these great ocean travelers rise up from the depths or to suddenly see the flash of the enormous flukes. Gray Whales, Humpback whales, blue whales, and occasionally orcas can be seen between December and October.

Gray whales can be seen off the coast starting in late Dec., and continuing, until sometimes as late as June. Gray whales are medium sized and reach about 45 feet long.

Found only on the Pacific Coast, gray whales are most well known for their twice-yearly migration between Alaskan waters and Baja California. Beginning in December, pregnant females make the journey south traveling 6,000 miles to the calving grounds at the lagoons of Baja California. Mature males, non-pregnant females and juveniles follow through early February. Beginning in February they head back to Alaska with their newborn babies in tow.

Just as the gray whales make it back to Alaskan waters, humpback whales are leaving on their journey to tropical seas. On their way, they spend time feeding in the nutrient-rich waters off the Central Coast From June through September.

Humpback whales are best known for their vocal repertoire. They sing the song of the sea in an array of squeaks, groans, moans, and wails.

Blue whale, the largest animal inhabiting the earth, can also be spotted off of the California coast from June to October, during times of abundant krill. An average weight for an adult is 200,000-300,000 pounds (100-150 tons). Its heart alone is as large as a small car. Blue whales are an overall blue-gray color, mottled with light gray.

Early morning is best for whale watching. The seas are calm and the wind hasn’t come up yet. If it’s overcast you’ll be able to see farther since this will reduce glare.

Success at whale spotting is better if you are prepared. Binoculars are a must. You will probably want a few other things too, perhaps a camera, warm clothes, maybe a little lunch, and definitely patience. Take a walk along just about any cliff line with public access or take a whale watching tour.

— Ruth Ann Angus

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