Gray whale migration is underway along the coast of California, and the San Francisco Bay has officially welcomed its first gray whale visitor of 2023. The Marine Mammal Center confirmed that they first spotted a gray whale in the Bay on February 8, and then managed to nab a video of the whale on February 9. According to SFGATE, more sightings in the Bay have already been reported.
If you happen to spot a gray whale in the Bay, the Marine Mammal Center asks that you report it by calling 415-289-SEAL (7325). This way the Center can monitor the animal and send word to avoid fatal ship strikes.
Over 15,000 gray whales are migrating along the coast during this time of year and we can expect to see even more in March and April. But keep in mind that although San Francisco Whale Tours is often a go-to for whale watching in the Bay, they’re still temporarily closed for maintenance and are only booking tours from April onward.
You can always try booking other types of boat tours around SF like this 1.5-hour sailing tour or this sunset catamaran cruise. However, you don’t necessarily need to be in a boat to see a whale — go for a walk along the waterfront or on the Golden Gate Bridge and keep your eyes peeled for spouting, “lobtailing” (slapping their tails) or even breaching.
Here are some other ways to catch the gray whale migration around the Bay Area.
Point Reyes is one of the best whale viewing spots in NorCal, being that the peninsula extends further into whale territory than other spots on the coast. Stake out near Chimney Rock and the Point Reyes Lighthouse, or grab a shuttle between viewing areas. Don’t forget to spot the elephant seals at Drakes Beach!
Santa Cruz’s position just above the Monterey Bay makes it a key feeding point for migratory whales. Take a walk along West Cliff or East Cliff and you can watch the surfers while you’re at it. Check out Santa Cruz Whale Watching for tours.
Monterey Bay is one of the most dynamic spots for wildlife viewing in the world, where visitors can spot all kinds of whales, sea otters, seals, jellies, and more among the famous kelp forests. Some good whale watching spots from land include Point Lobos and Garrapata State Park. You can also look for whale tours like Monterey Bay Whale Watch, Princess Monterey Whale Watching Tours, and Discovery Whale Watch.