Monterey Delivers Again

Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whales, Balaenoptera musculus

I was in Monterey a few weeks ago for a couple of days whale watching with Monterey Bay Whale Watch (by far the best operator in town to go out with).  Don Roberson came out with me on the first day, and Charles Hood and Jose Gabriel Martinez on the second.

Pacific White-sided Dolphins. Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

The fall (aka autumn) is a good time for cetacean spotting in the bay and we had good weather, though I didn’t see the Baird’s Beaked Whales I was hoping for. Beaked Whales here, like most places, are are always a longshot, but this time of year is one of the better periods to bump into them, especially on one of Nancy Black’s 8 or 12 hour trips which venture further out and over the marine canyons where beaked whales are more often spotted.

Nevertheless, there was an impressive diversity of cetacean off of Monterey that weekend.


Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus

We had Blue and Humpback Whales, massive (1000+) pods of both Risso’s and Pacific White-sided Dolphins, with a few Common Dolphins and Northern Rightwhale Dolphins mixed in.


Northern Rightwhale Dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis

Bigg’s Killer Whale and a few Dall’s Porpoises brought the cetacean count up to an impressive eight species.


Bigg’s Killer Whale, Orcinus orca

As always there were a few Sea Otters in the harbour and plenty of California Sealions both inside the breakdwater and out to sea.


Sea Otter, Enhydra lutris

Some of the California Sealions were hunting with the Humpback Whales in large pods.


California Sealion, Zalophus californianus


Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis

Mammals aside, a Blue Shark and a massive Mola Mola also helped make for a fun weekend at sea.

Mola Mola or Sunfish

Mola Mola or Sunfish

Blue Shark

Blue Shark

No new species for me, but several I had not seen often before. Unfortunately I missed out on Northern Fur Seals after my planned trip to the Farallon Islands was cancelled because of the wind: fur seals are pretty much guaranteed on these trips.

Some spotlighting with Charles and Jose Gabriel in the Panoche Valley – a couple of hours from Monterey – was productive. We saw dozens of Giant Kangaroo Rats and some smaller kangaroo rat species, together with a two Kit Foxes and a California Pocket Mouse.

Thanks to Nancy Black, Don Roberson, Charles Hood and Jose Gabriel for their help.


The characteristic "Rooster Tail" of a Dall's Porpoise travelling at speed

The characteristic “Rooster Tail” of a Dall’s Porpoise travelling at speed

Weekend List
Western Gray Squirrel Sciurus griseus
Eastern Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger
California Pocket Mouse Chaetodipus californicus
Giant Kangaroo-Rat Dipodomys ingens
Kit Fox Vulpes macrotis
Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
California Sea-Lion Zalophus californianus
Sea Otter Enhydra lutris
Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae
Dall’s Porpoise Phocoenoides dalli
Killer Whale Orcinus orca
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis
Pacific White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
Northern Right-Whale Dolphin Lissodelphis borealis
Risso’s Dolphin Grampus griseus
Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus


Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

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