Subject: Whale watching in California

Phil Colla (
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 15:30:56 -0800

>Sorry to have to bother you - but we will be in Los Angeles the two
>weeks beginning 9th May and wondered what time of the year the whales
>migrate on that coast - from Hawaii

Well, California does not get a migration of whales from **HAWAII**
but it does get migrations from Alaska and Mexico.  Here are a few
thoughts that might clear things up a bit for you.

Humpbacks: migrate from Alaska to either Japan, Hawaii or Mexico.
  Southbound beginning about December thru Feb, Northbound from
  Feb through about April or May.
  One or more individuals have been sighted in Hawaii and Mexico
  or Japan in the same winter, but by-and-large the migration is
  from Alaska south to one of the three destinations.  Only the
  Alaska - Mexico population is can be seen along the Calif coast,
  and those numbers are small.
  The best humpback watching is in the Hawaiian islands from Jan
  through late March.

Blue and humpback whales: Can be found in the channel islands near
  Santa Barbara in summer, roughly June through Aug/Sep, if the
  food supply is good.  Otherwise they may be farther north near
  Oregon.  The blue whale migration is not a reliable as that of
  humpbacks or grays, and they can be far offshore.

Gray whales: similar migration timing to humpbacks, but stick closer
  to shore, Alaska and Bering Sea south to Baja Mexico in Dec/Jan
  and returning in March or so.  These guys are much easier to observe
  in California from a whale watching boat than are humpbacks.

Phil Colla

Phil Colla,
Humpback Whales: