Whale Watching
Gray Whales
Blue Whales

San Diego Whale Watching Charters

We are fortunate to have whale watching opportunities year round. San Diego Boat Tours offers whale watching charters with an experienced and knowledgeable captain for private group excursions in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego. The above photo is of a mother and calf.

The southern coastal location of San Diego with it’s unique Mediterranean climate is comfortable for humans and marine mammals alike. With the location being right in the middle of the great annual migration of certain whale species, it is the ideal whale watching environment.

San Diego Boat Tours provides a GREAT venue for your Whale Watching Event. You will be comfortable and well taken care of on you own private yacht.
Comfortable Enclosed Yachts
Washrooms on all Yachts
Captain goes where you want
Your own Private Yacht – No Crowds

San Diego Whale Watching – California Gray Whale

The California Gray Whale annual migration allows for whale watching beginning in December and lasting through March. It is possible to view the whale migration both when the whale are going south to Baja Mexico to give birth in warmer waters, and again when they come back up the coastline to Alaska for feeding. Generally, the whales are much closer to shore during the migration south and are therefore easier to view.

Each year thousands of Gray Whales take part in the great migration of approximately 10,000 km, which is thought to be the longest migration of any mammal.

The California Gray Whale is actually considered a medium sized whale of the cetacean family and can reach a length of 52 ft. and a weight of 36 tons! As you would suspect, they are called Gray Whale from the gray slate color of their skin as well as the grey-white splotches and scarring left by parasites living on the whale.

The California Gray Whale diet consists of microscopic krill, which they much consume in vast quantities. A unique feature of one class of whales is the baleen, which are similar to teeth, but actually work as a filter, allowing the whales to suck up hundreds of gallons of seawater to eat between 4,500-5,500 pounds each day!

Gray Whale Breaching off San Diego Coast
Gray Whale Tail Taken on Charter
Hunted to Near Extension
The Gray Whales were the first to be protected – beginning back in 1937. The endangerment and subsequent protection of the California Gray Whale is considered a tremendous conservation success story.

Having been hunted to near extinction, the species has rebounded healthily and now have an estimated population of 30,000 individual whales.

The picture of a whale breaching (taken on a charter) above is somewhat rare to catch behaviorally. Breaching is basically a giant leap breaking the surface of the water and then falling back in with a thunderous slap. This behavior is thought to be related to scratching an itch that the barnacles create, the breaching activity is the scratch. This is one logical explanation; another realistic possibility is that it is plain fun!

Whales of San Diego

The types or species of whales you can expect to find when whale watching in San Diego varies by the time of year or season, yet marine life such as dolphins and sea lions happily call San Diego their permanent residence year round.  San Diego Boat Tours has compiled a list of common and not so common whale species (Whale Watching in San Diego) that linger past our coastline for easy reference and to become more familiar with, if you are not already. Of course looking toward the horizon to catch a glimpse of a whale blow is possible, but also about as common as rain in San Diego, so whale watching from a boat is the only way to get the true personal experience and excitement of spotting whales in their own environment.
Marine mammals actually have advanced methods of communication using sonar and make a variety of sounds and “songs” as they are also referred to. If you are interested in learning more or hearing for yourself, the Scripps Institute has compiled an audio sampling and brief video for each whales species and have shared it with the public on the site Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab.
San Diego is lucky to be home to the world renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Sea World, allowing the public access to all of their wonderful resources, research, education and support for the marine environment and all of its majestic inhabitants, such as the California Gray Whales.
Besides the California Gray Whale, sightings are fewer of Orcas (aka Killer Whale or Shamu) as well as the largest species on the planet, a Blue Whale. While sightings are somewhat sporadic, it is possible to catch a glimpse of either of these more elusive of the cetacean species.

The best time of year to spot a Blue Whale is from mid June to mid September. With San Diego Boat Tours the whale watching route for a Blue Whale travels closer to the Coronado Islands or the Nine Mile Bank area to have a greater chance for an encounter.

Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to experience the grandeur of these magnificent creatures of the deep up close on your own private whale watching charter.  [Where are All the Whales Article]

Whale Watching Charter – When to watch?

It is possible to see a whale anytime of the day since they do not sleep like humans; they migrate 24 hours a day. However, the chances of spotting whales are likelier when the water is calmer. They most often travel at an average speed of about 4 – 5 knots from north to south and are generally 3 to 5 miles offshore.

What to Look for When Whale Watching

The “Blow” or “Spout,” which is how a whale breathes reaches around 15 feet in the air and is visible for several seconds on the horizon or water surface. Commonly a whale takes 3 to 5 blows about 30 – 50 seconds apart and then dives deep down in the water for around 3 – 6 minutes. The picture featuring 3 whales “blows,” was taken on a recent charter. Often it takes a little luck and fast response to take pictures of whales, they do not pose for the camera as much as we would like. The timing in the photo below happened to be perfect in capturing all three whales breathing at the same time.

Characteristically before making the deep dive the whale may display its fluke or tail fin. The fluke is fairly large (around 12 feet) and it helps push the whale under water, propelling the large beast in any chosen direction. If you are lucky to get close enough you will get a chance to notice a knuckled ridge along the spine of the whale and the barnacles taking a free ride as well as the molted gray color of the skin. After a whale submerges you will notice what is called a ‘footprint” – a section of calm water where the whale has been is left behind on the waters surface.

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