Monterey Bay Season:March through November (sometimes as late as January)
The Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a marvelous cetacean to observe closely here in Monterey Bay. They are the acrobats of the great whales and the ultimate scene-stealers! We see lots of them, including mothers with calves. Those calves are rambunctious and often breach over and over.
They come here to feed both on krill and on small schooling fish. What an experience to observe these behemoths lunging up to the surface, huge mouths agape and throats expanded as they feed. We love it when their food is close to the surface, so we can see the action.
Humpbacks chase their prey up to the surface and emerge open-mouthed in a sudden burst.
Humpbacks sometimes slap the water with their long pectoral fins over and over and over.
Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have evolved into extremely stream-lined animals for efficient swimming and diving. They have lost their rear limbs entirely. Their forelimbs retain all the same bones as land mammals, but have elongated finger bones forming paddle-like flippers.
All whales are subject to entanglement in fishing gear which can result in weakening, cuts and infections and drowning. It is a very disturbing thing to see such a majestic animal as a humpback whale trailing fishing line and buoys. It can get caught in their mouth, preventing feeding, or on their flippers or flukes cutting off circulation or causing drowning. Unfortunately we have observed entangled whales in Monterey Bay each year recently and done our best to get rescue teams to the scene.