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February Gray Whale Migration and Behaviors

Twice every year over 20,000 Gray Whales pass through our waters off of Santa Cruz. The first time occurs from December through mid February when they are migrating south from the cold arctic waters of the Bering Sea to their winter calving grounds off of the Baja Peninsula, then north again to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea of Alaska.

Northbound whales are usually off of Santa Cruz from mid February through April. This 10,000+ mile roundtrip is one of the longest migrations of any animal known. Peak viewing for southbound whales is usually in mid January-February.

Peak northbound migration is around mid March. The Gray Whale can reach 45′ long. Females are usually larger than males. During their migration they are constantly traveling at 2-4 miles per hour. This can make for ideal viewing. Gray Whales will sound (dive) for 2-5 minutes, sometimes longer. Their northern migration tends to be more social and leisurely. At times they can be spotted mating, breaching and “spyhopping”.

Gray Whale photos from our archives:

Gray whales in Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching Matthias Stiller
photo: MATTHIAS STILLER

Gray whales in Monterey Bay with Santa Cruz Whale Watching
photo: TEDDY DALIGGA

gray whale breach monterey santa cruz
photo: MICHAEL NELSON

Jenny O'Leary | Sun, Feb 17, 2019 12:27 PM