Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
They are our summer species of whale. We see them from May to November, but over the last few years we have seen some staying year round. This population of humpback whales comes to Monterey Bay in the summer to feed on schooling fish and krill. They are our most acrobatic species of whale that visit Monterey Bay.
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus):
We see blue whales from May to July. They are the largest animal on earth and they feed almost exclusively on krill. Their blow can be 20 feet tall.
Gray whale (Eschrictius robustus):
The gray whales pass through Monterey Bay on their migrations. They are seen from December to May. In the spring months the mothers and calves hug the coastline of the bay for protection from killer whales.
Killer whale (Orcinus orca):
They are the largest dolphin species. Here in Monterey Bay we have transient killer whales, which means they feed on marine mammals. The height of their season is in the spring time when the mother and calf gray whales are present, yet they are seen sporadically year round.
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus):
They are the second largest dolphin, seen year round in the bay. They have a gray/white body covered in scar marks. They feed on deep sea creatures, such as squid.
Common dolphin (Delphinus capensis):
Seen year round in pods of a few hundred to thousands of individuals. These dolphins are very playful and bow ride with the boats.
Pacific-white sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens):
They are seen year round in small pods or in groups with other dolphin species. They are very fast swimmers and will sometimes bow ride.
Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates):
They are the dolphins that are most commonly seen in TV shows and movies. They are coastal dolphins and will ride the waves along the coast. We see them throughout the year just outside the harbor.
Northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis):
They are found in the north Pacific. They have a black body with a white belly, and lack a dorsal fin. Usually seen farther offshore and mix with other species of dolphins when in the bay.
Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli):
They are seen year round. They have very distinct black and white coloration. These porpoises are very speedy swimmers and are seen in small groups.
Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena):
They are in the bay year round and seen in small groups. They have a very distinct gray triangular shaped dorsal fin.
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus):
Seen year round in the harbor or out in the bay. They are identified by their external ear-flaps, brown coat, and long fore-flippers.
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina):
Seen in the harbor year round. Give birth to their pups in Monterey and Moss Landing in the spring months. Can be identified by their silver/brown spotted coat. They are often seen resting on beaches and rock around Monterey Bay.
Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris):
Many take residence in Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough. They are the smallest marine mammals in Monterey Bay. They rely on their thick fur for warmth, not blubber. Their coat is a million hairs per square inch. Since they are so small they have to eat 25 % of their body weight per day to stay warm in the cold waters of Monterey.
Ocean sunfish (Mola mola):
They are a very large oceanic fish. We will see them sunning themselves at the surface of the water in the bay. They can grow to be as large as a garage door.
Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea):
Seen in late summer and fall. They come to Monterey Bay to feed on the abundant jellyfish populations.