Animals and Wildlife
Scenic Monterey County is one of the richest ecological regions along California's central coast, as proven by the diverse species that call it home. Whether you take your joy in spotting the creatures of land, air or sea, there's plenty to see here.
Whales, Sea Otters, Seals & Sea Lions
As spring progresses and the days grow longer, the great migration of gray whales heading south from the Bering Sea to the calving lagoons off Mexico's Baja Peninsula draws to a close. During the season's peak (roughly December through March), as many as 7,000 gray whales pass south through the offshore waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Their place in the binoculars and spotting scopes of whale watchers is later taken by a multitude of other marine mammals. This abundance of marine life attracts year-round whale watching cruises that depart from Monterey and Moss Landing in Monterey County. They're led by experienced captains and naturalists who are delighted to introduce visitors to the fascinating and beautiful creatures who call our California waters home.
Sea otters delight all with their playful antics and can be seen at Municipal and Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, the Breakwater, Lovers Point, Otter Point, Point Piños, Point Joe, Bird and Seal Rocks, Cypress Point, Pescadero Point, Carmel Point, and Point Lobos. Listen for the distinctive tap-tap of rock on shell-it's likely to be an otter cracking open a lunch of abalone or clams.
Harbor seals, sea lions and elephant seals are fascinating residents of the Central Coast. They often bask-and bark!-on local beaches and rocks. These lackadaisical sea creatures inhabit the same areas as otters, and can often be seen piled on mile markers, dinghies, floating docks, and any other available spaces around the harbor. Especially during the birthing season, these mammals' privacy must be respected, and screens may block your view on 17-Mile Drive. They are protected by law, so remember to keep your distance.