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If you’re wondering where to see whales or dolphins in California, Monterey Bay is one of the only places in the world that has whale watching year-round! One of the reasons there is always something to see is that we have both transient (migrating) and resident sea life that rarely leaves Monterey Bay. Protected as a National Marine Sanctuary, the bay is healthy and teeming with wildlife from every level of the food chain. With such diversity, there is always something to see and we want you to know what to look for on a Monterey Bay whale or dolphin watching trip.

While on your whale watching tour, you may get a chance to see many types of whales in Monterey Bay, such as humpback whales, gray whales, blue whales, fin whales, minke whales and beaked whales as well as various species of dolphins such as killer whales (orcas), bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, long-beaked common dolphin, and pacific white-sided dolphins.

Other common sightings on Monterey Bay include the leatherback turtle, porpoises, sea lions, elephant seals, the Pacific sunfish, also known as a mola mola, and of course the cute, iconic Monterey Bay sea otters!


Baleen Whales:

  • Humpback Whale
  • Gray Whale
  • Blue Whale
  • Minke Whale
  • Fin Whale

Toothed Whales:

  • Sperm Whale
  • Baird’s Beaked Whale
  • Cuvier’s Beaked Whale
  • Killer Whale


  • Risso’s Dolphin
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Short-Beaked Common Dolphin
  • Long-Beaked Common Dolphin
  • Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
  • Northern Right Whale Dolphin

Other Marine Life

  • Dall’s Porpoise
  • Harbor Porpoise
  • California Sea Otter
  • California Sea Lion
  • Northern Elephant Seal
  • Northern Fur Seal
  • Mola Mola aka Ocean Sun Fish
  • Leatherback Turtle
  • Cormorants
  • Gulls
  • Pelicans
  • Albatross
  • Shearwaters
  • Sea Ducks