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Whale Watching off the Northern California Coast
Join us on a whale watching trip from San Francisco or Half Moon Bay. Full- and half-day boat tours are available almost every weekend. Opportunities to see blue, humpback, and gray whales, dolphins and porpoises, seals and sea lions, rare seabirds, great white sharks, leatherback sea turtles, and other marine life up close. California has some of the best marine wildlife viewing in the world!
Gray Whale Migration Season: December through May
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The annual gray whale migration is one of the world's most magnificent and accessible wildlife spectacles. Each year approximately 15,000 gray whales swim south from Arctic feeding grounds to their Baja California breeding and calving grounds, making for some of the world's best whale watching opportunities right off the California coast.
From December through May, gray whales can be observed a few miles off California's shore, and whale watchers aboard Oceanic Society's naturalist-led whale watch boats have a unique vantage from which to view this incredible event. Oceanic Society follows federal whale watching guidelines plus our own stated Code of Ethics during all whale watching trips.
Trips to observe the gray whales depart from Half Moon Bay. Sign up today!
Farallon Islands Whale Watching Season: May through November
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The Farallon Islands, just 27 miles off San Francisco, lie amid the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a food-rich marine ecosystem which attracts whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds each summer and fall, to feed and to breed. Researchers have catalogued hundreds of individual humpbacks and blue whales as seasonal feeding residents.
From May through November, it is possible to view up to 23 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of whales and dolphins, plus 12 species of nesting seabirds. Nearly 250,000 birds lay their eggs and raise their young on the Refuge. Browse our recent wildlife sightings.