Migration Period: Mid-December - April
Each year, more than 20,000 gray whales make a 10,000 mile round-trip journey from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California, where the females give birth to their calves. After spending time in warm Baja California waters so their young can grow strong, they make the journey north again in spring. The longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis, it is truly an extraordinary spectacle to observe. With 70 miles of coastline directly in the migration path, San Diego is an ideal destination to see this impressive parade of gentle giants. According to the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three but more may be seen traveling together during peak migration season. These giants are roughly the width of a basketball court and cruise at an average speed of five knots (about six miles per hour).
Migration Period: Mid-June - September
Blue whales, the largest creatures on earth and thought to be among the most endangered of the great whales, may be found off the coast of San Diego mid-June through September. In fact, the largest group of blue whales in the world, some 2,000 to 3,000, feed off the California coast during the summer months. These magnificent mammals, who can be 100-feet, give away their location by spouting a 30-foot column of water in the air that can be seen from miles away.. The migratory patterns of blue whales have been tracked from the Antarctic to California to Costa Rica. Changes in ocean temperatures and the abundance of krill over the past few years have attracted far more blue whales to San Diego's coast than in the past. Since blue whales tend to be found further out to sea than their grey whale cousins, it's recommend to venture on a boat trip versus viewing from the shore in order to catch a glimpse of these incredible leviathans.
There are a number of different ways to experience whale watching in San Diego. A couple of great spots to view the grey whale migration from shore include the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the Cabrillo National Monument and Torrey Pines State Reserve where the hiking trails offer expansive views of the Pacific. If you're interested in a closer look at these majestic creatures, a host of sightseeing and tour operators in San Diego offer a variety of whale watching excursions. This is also the best way to see a blue whale as they tend to stay farther out to sea. A whale watching trip is also a fun oceanic adventures and affords great views of San Diego's beautiful skyline from a different point of view. Many of the tour operators have extensive knowledge of the whales and their migration habits and will happily share this information during the tour. This is definitely a recommended activity for all ages and a great addition to your San Diego itinerary during the winter/early spring and summer seasons.
For more information on whale watching in San Diego, California, view one of the articles or visit one of the tour operators below.
Enjoy 2.5 hour whale watching cruises with multiple times daily to choose from. Departing from Newport Beach view gray whales on their migration along with finback whales, minke whales, humpback...
Sunset Dinner Cruises are a deliciously different dining experience, sailing nightly on San Diego Bay. Enjoy a 3-hour cruise, with 3-course dinner, chilled glass of champagne, with entertainment and...
$5 off any one- or two-hour narrated Hornbower Harbor Cruise or Sea Lion Adventure on Hornblower. Sightseeing cruises run daily with 6 cruises each day departing from 970 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego,...
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