Dolphins & Whales in San Diego – What We See
The Blue Whale is the largest mammal and could possibly even be the largest animal on earth! Unfortunately, it has been placed on the endangered species list due to the whaling industry. It is believed that there was once 350,000 of these magnificent creatures. Today there are 8,000-14,000 remaining. We usually see these whales in San Diego from June to October; however, we have seen them sporadically throughout the year!
San Diego is one of the most exciting places to experience the annual migration of the Gray Whales! With around 20,000+ passing by us heading south on their way towards the warm Mexico waters to give birth then again passing by the San Diego Coastline heading north to start their journey home with their newborn calf’s. There is so much to be seen during Mid- December all the way until the end of April! Don’t miss out on this amazing experience!
The Finback whale is the second largest whale! These animals usually live around 85-90 years; however, unfortunately, due to whaling, they’re numbers are just a fraction of what they once were. Our whale watchers here in San Diego have a chance at seeing these whales year-round offshore!
Humpback whales are known most for their acrobatic breaches which can put on quite an amazing show for us! They are also known for singing their “whale songs!” These creatures are some of the friendliest and have also been known to help sea lions from killer whales for no personal gain, only to do a good deed! There is so much to learn about these fascinating creatures whom we get to see year-round on our whale watching excursions in San Diego.
Minke (Pronounced “Mink-ey”) whales are a rare sight here in San Diego! Even though there is such a large population of this species, we have about 500 or so individuals that we see on our San Diego whale watching tours. Fun Fact: they can reach up to speeds of more than 22mph!
Orca whales (A.K.A. Killer Whales, blackfish, grampus) are the most recognized whale species because of their striking colors, TV productions and their shows at Sea World. When we see these animals out in the ocean, they tend to stay in long term social pods for life. In these pods, there is usually a pronounced hierarchy within the group. When hunted, or taken away from their groups there is intense side effects for the whales, as they are very emotionally connected with their pod and mostly their offspring. It is quite rare to see these whales in San Diego; however, when we do see them it is a magical experience.
The common dolphin are very social and usually travel in pods from 100 to more than 1,000! We see them very often on our ocean excursions in San Diego! They are typically very friendly and have fun playing off the bow of our boat
Whale Watching San Diego visitors may also see bottlenose dolphin year-round! They are extremely well known for their intelligence. These dolphin often live from 30 to 50 years! Dolphins are known to have excellent echolocation skills, where they put out sounds that bounce of objects to determine their location, and use it to hunt their pray!
These dolphins that are seen by our dolphin watchers are known as “the tattooed dolphin” or “the gray dolphin” with white marks all over their skin. Risso dolphin have think bodies and a narrow tail with a length of anywhere from 8.5 to 13 ft. On our whale watching trips, we usually find them in pods that can vary anywhere from 5 to 50 dolphins!
Whale watching and dolphin watching visitors also see many pacific white sided dolphin during our San Diego Harbor boat tours. These dolphin are about 6.5 to 8 ft. depending on their gender. With three colors on their body, they are very fascinating to look at! Their throats, chins and bellies are a creamy white shade; while, their backs, beaks and flippers are a dark gray. The third color is a light grey that is found in patches on their sides and a light grey stripe from the eyes to the dorsal fin then thickens as it goes back towards the tail!
These are the smallest of the eight species of pelican; however, pelicans are very large compared to most birds. They can live and fish for up to 30 years! These are great animals to keep an eye our for when whale watching in San Diego because they look for whales and dolphin to take part in feeding frenzies where whales, dolphin and birds all take park in feeding on large groups of fish.
These are great animals to keep an eye our for when whale watching in San Diego because they look for whales and dolphin to take part in feeding frenzies where whales, dolphin and birds all take park in feeding on large groups of fish.
These birds are well known for their speed! They are very small birds that are typically found along the coastline of Southern California whale watching excursions.
These fish are some of the most interesting looking creatures! They are also known under the name of “Mola Mola.” They are huge, flat, have tiny mouths and large eyes. They are found usually in the summer and fall while whale watching and dolphin watching and are known to hang out towards the surface to soak in some sun! (which explains the name)
Did you know that the main difference between seals and sea lions is that sea lions have large, strong pectoral flippers that they use to help them “walk” onshore. They also have visible ear flaps, where seals do not. Seals have much smaller pectoral flippers and do not bark loudly like the sea lions! We often find these fellas on the buoys and the bait barge in the San Diego Bay and offshore enjoying the ocean. They can even be found swimming with the dolphin!
Risso Dolphin are such a beautiful sight here in San Diego. Huge thanks to Mandi McQuivey for sharing these photos…
Great day out on the water. We saw blues, greys, and these amazing Orcas!