Monterey Animals & Wildlife

Scenic Monterey County is one of the richest ecological regions along California's central coast, home to diverse species on land, in the air and at sea. Ready to spot some wildlife?

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.

Abundant marine life attracts year-round whale watching cruises that depart from Monterey and Moss Landing in Monterey County. The tours are led by experienced captains and naturalists who are delighted to introduce visitors to the fascinating and beautiful creatures who call the 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 an otter cracking open an abalone or clam for lunch.

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. They are protected by law, so remember to keep your distance.

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