Monterey Bay Whale Watch - About Monterey Bay

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Click for large map (18K) of Monterey Bay Located along the central California coast, Monterey Bay contains the largest and deepest submarine canyon in North America and it's one of the few canyons that bisects the coastline so close to shore. This allows deep water species of marine mammals and seabirds to be found relatively near shore and accessible for day whale watches. This region is extremely productive and rich biologically due to coastal upwelling and bathymetric features. Monterey Bay's continental shelf and submarine canyon support a variety of habitats with one of the highest diversities of marine mammals in the world. Twenty-six species of marine mammals have been observed here, including five species of seals and sea lions, the southern sea otter and 94 species of seabirds.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the largest United States National Marine Sanctuary, encompassing 5,312 square miles extending from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in the north to San Simeon, south of Big Sur. This extremely rich area centers around the Monterey Submarine Canyon, comparable in size and shape to the Grand Canyon. The canyon extends over 50 miles offshore, reaching depths near 12,000 feet.

The central California coast is one of only five major upwelling regions in the world. Upwelling is a phenomenon where cold nutrient-rich water is driven to the surface due to wind, the angle of the coastline, and the rotation of the earth. This cold deep water is filled with nutrients, and during the spring when the northwest winds blow, this rich water is brought to the surface and with fuel from the sun creates surface plankton blooms. This plankton forms the basis of the food chain for all marine animals. Whales, dolphins, and seabirds concentrate in the waters of central California including Monterey Bay to feed on an abundance of krill, fish, and squid supported by these intense plankton blooms.

Monterey Bay contains a shallow nearshore shelf that is bisected by the Monterey Submarine Canyon. Dense kelp beds grow nearshore over the rocky bottom areas. These varying areas create a diversity of habitats for marine animals. Gray Whales migrate within three miles of the coastline. Sea Otters and Harbor Seals rest and feed within the kelp forest. Harbor Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphins occur year-round in the shallow sandy shelf region. Minke Whales feed nearshore on juvenile rockfish and other schooling fish over shallow rocky bottom regions. Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Killer Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Risso's Dolphins, Northern Right Whale Dolphins, Common Dolphins, and Dall's Porpoise occur near the canyon edge and beyond into deep water regions. Many seabird species migrate here by the millions to feed on the Bay's rich food sources.

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Monterey Bay Whale Watch logo (2K)
 
Monterey Bay Whale Watch
84 Fisherman's Wharf
Monterey, CA 93940
 
Phone 831-375-4658  
E-mail whaletrips@gowhales.com

Copyright © 1999 Monterey Bay Whale Watch. All rights reserved.

Last updated February 9, 1999