Whale Watching in Pacifica

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This is an archive of the "Current Information" section of HowToSeeTheWhales from 2022.

Current Information

In this section I will try to provide any current information that might be helpful. I strongly recommend reading the other sections first.

One of the best ways right now of knowing when/where the whales are is to follow the Pacifica Whalespotting Facebook group. This is a public group and is updated fairly regularly when people see whales (also feel free to add to the group by posting when/if you see a whale!). That group is: Pacifica Whalespotting. Also consider helping the researchers by Reporting your Sightings.

Update November 1, 2022

A little while after the October 4 update, the whales seemed to start hanging around Linda Mar and Pedro Point more. They were pretty active and visible for over a week. However the last I've seen or seen any reports about the whales was October 19th. It seems likely they've started their migration down to Mexico.

Update October 4, 2022

The same 5 humpbacks continue to hang around. Oct 3-4 were really stellar days for whale watching at the Pacifica Pier. They were coming right up to the pier close enough you could look almost straight down on them. I could barely fit the whale in frame even zoomed out to 100mm on my lens.

While they have been spotted pretty much all day long, it seems they've been most active in the afternoon and evening. They seem to start getting active around noon and hang around until close to sunset. They've been spending time in other areas, not just the pier. They've spent a lot of time up around the Manor post office to Mussel Rock, as well as down around Mori Pt, and occasionally into Rockaway and Linda Mar.

Update October 1, 2022

There have been 4-5 Humpbacks hanging around for a little over a week. They often seem to split into two pairs plus one solo, though I've seen all 5 get together a few times, often late in the day (possibly a "OK, we're done here for today"). They have been spending a lot of time between Mori Pt and Mussel Rock. Occasionally they come in very close to the pier. But on average they've tended to stay to the north of the pier - generally between the north end of Beach Blvd and roughly the post office in Manor. I haven't seen them yet today (sat 10/1) but I (and/or others) have seen them every day since 9/23 and a bit more sporadically between 8/31 and 9/23. When they're around, they seem to be around most of the day. On average I've been seeing them a bit more from roughly noon to sunset.

Update August 20, 2022

There haven't really been any sightings locally for a few weeks. There were one or two sightings around August 12th near the pier, but generally it's been pretty quiet. There have been quite a few sightings of humpbacks as well as a large number of Orcas (as many as 15) in Monterey. Sometimes they will make their way up here, so we might see some of them in the coming weeks.

Update July 12, 2022

In June we had a mix of Humpback and Gray Whales. While this is the time/season for Humpbacks, it is very unusual for the Grays to be here right now. The Grays also are not supposed to be hanging around - we really only should see them as they pass by on their way to Alaska. However there have been about 4-5 Grays which had been stayig around most of June and a little into July (July 12 update - I haven't seen any of the Grays in about 10 days).

The Humpbacks have made the central/northern California coast their feeding grounds. So they will often stay around for a while, as long as the food is plentiful. They may move down to Monterey or up to the north coast, depending on what the bait fish are doing. If we're lucky, they can be here for weeks or even months. But don't count on them being around for long periods - they can disappear as quickly as they appear.

The previous paragraph was somewhat prophetic, as shortly after I wrote it, all the whales seemed to suddenly disappear. They were gone for about a week and then a Humpback was spotted and photographed near Esplanade on July 9th, and two Humpbacks were spotted (and I photographed) on July 10th near the pier.

While in general there typically isn't a strong correlation between time-of-day and when to see the whales, as described in the When to See the Whales section, for the past 5 or 6 days (as of June 30, 2022) the Humpbacks seem to have been most active in the mornings and evenings. I've tended to see a lot more tail slapping in the evenings. This often seems to be a communication saying "OK guys, time to head out". The Gray Whales seem to be active nearly all day long. July 12 update - the 2 Humpbacks I saw at the pier on July 10th were around in the morning, but left just before noon and I didn't see them again (though the marine layer rolled in heavy, so even if they were around, it would be tough to see them).

The Gray Whales have been spending a lot of their time in the Esplanade area, but they've typically been moving from the Esplanade area down to about Mori Point and back up to Esplanade. They've been making these rounds multiple times each day. As they head past the pier, they often come extremely close. Here's one of the shots I got of one of them from the pier. They seem to head north at the end of the day, somewhere around sunset. July 12 update - I haven't seen any of the Grrays in about 10 days.