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A Whale Watching Day in Monterey Bay

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/26/2007 | Travel

While staying or playing in California's Monterey Bay area, how about taking a Whale Watching tour? Monterey Bay is situated near the mid-section of California's coastline. The bay not only has a shallow shelf by the shore, it also has an enormous and deep submarine canyon. These extremes in habitats permit a large variety of marine creatures to dwell there. By taking a whale watching tour, you may be able to see some of the marine life listed below which varies depending on the time of the year that you go.

Marine Life of Monterey Bay:

Whales - There are Blue, Gray, Minke, Fin, Humpback, Beaked and Sperm Whales.

Dolphins and Porpoises - There are the Common, Bottlenose, Pacific White-sided, Risso's, Orca (Killer Whale) and Northern Right Whale Dolphins. Also, the Dall's and Harbor Porpoises.

Pinnipeds - There are the Stellar and California Sea Lions. Also, the Northern Fur, Pacific Harbor and Northern Elephant Seals.

Sea Otters - Southern Sea Otter

Sea Turtles - Leatherback Sea Turtle

Sea Birds - There are Pelicans, Loons, Terns, Black-footed Albatross and Gulls.

There are several tour companies operating in the bay. Besides price, check with each one to see what their particular whale watching tour offers. Ask what time or times of day they go out. Which type and size of vessel will you be on? Does it have indoor and outdoor seating and heated cabins? Are there ample life jackets? Does it have a live or taped narrated tour? Will there be a marine biologist or naturalist on board to identify animals and answer questions? Can you bring snacks and beverages or are there some available on the boat? Inquire about the length of the trip because tours can range anywhere from two to four hours. Find out about their cancellation policy. Will they cancel for poor weather conditions or under booked tours?

To insure that your outing is a pleasant and comfortable trip it is important to do a little preparation. Before your excursion, it is a good idea to purchase your tickets. This way you can book the day and time that you want and not have to worry about getting there and the trip being sold out. Also be certain to arrive at least a half of an hour before departure so you will have enough time to check in.

Since out on the ocean it can be breezy and chilly no matter what time of the year, be sure to put on warm garments in several layers. It is recommended that you dress in long pants and wear flat closed-toed shoes with rubber soles. A wind and waterproof jacket or light raincoat, hat and gloves for the outermost layer is best should it start to rain. If it gets hot later on, you can always remove a layer. For additional weather protection, remember to bring your sunscreen lotion, lip balm, seasick medication and sunglasses. You may also wish to bring a camera, video camera or binoculars for extra enjoyment.

While there is no guarantee that you will see any whales, the captain and crew with all their experience and knowledge, will do their best to find them. Should your boat be lucky enough to locate a whale, please realize that you are not allowed to attempt to touch it or any other animal. This is for the animal's safety as well as yours. Whether or not you see a whale, you surely will view some of the wonderful marine life that makes their home in the bay or just visits at certain seasons of the year. So make plans for an unforgettable day out at sea and have a whale of a time!