California Monterey Peninsula wildlife

Monterey Bay whale watching as July 2014 ocean is warmest in decades

Whales, Whales, Whales near Carmel-by-the-sea beach

The same day a humpback whale was spotted swimming beside the Santa Cruz Wharf on the north side of Monterey Bay, we set up chairs and a beach tent on Carmel Beach and watched what appeared to be around ten or more humpback whales spread across outer Carmel Bay, five miles from our home in Monterey. We watched humpback whales spouting and splashing for a couple of hours Tuesday, July 22. Monterey Bay whale watching was happening that same day along more than 50 miles of coastline as dozens of humpback whales came close to shore. July 2014 ocean temperatures in Monterey Bay recorded the warmest water since records have been kept.

An interesting observation for me was seeing one humpback whale that appeared to be facing straight down in the water. The humpback flapped its tail fluke on the water surface repeatedly more than a dozen times for a couple of minutes. The whale ceased its tail slapping once I put down my binoculars and took out my camera. Very cool sighting from shore even though I did not get a photo.

Mostly the whale spotting views were large splashes in the ocean as humpbacks breached and crashed back down on the surface.


The photo above shows a humpback whale breaching the ocean surface and landing with a whale of a splash. I have pictures of whales too, but they are small lumps about one-tenth the size of the splash the whale made breaching.


Humpback whale, Carmel Beach, Tuesday July 22. The humpback whale’s fluke cascading sea water as the whale dives was great to see through binoculars. Both of my photos here are possibly the same whale seen from Carmel Beach. The whale splashes continued for hours all around outer Carmel Bay. This was an unusual and very special occurrence to witness.


Three dolphins swimming along inner Carmel Bay inside the kelp forest line.

I have spent many days at Carmel Beach over the past decade. This was the most whale activity I have ever seen from Carmel Beach. There were sightings of humpback whales all along the coast for over 50 miles from Carmel Beach to Santa Cruz that same day. The links at the end of this post have professional photos of the local whale sightings around Monterey Bay this week.

Swimming without a wetsuit

Monterey Bay water is typically cold due to the deep offshore canyons and cold water upwelling keeping the ocean temperature around the local beaches too chilly for swimming without a wetsuit.

The Monterey Bay buoy recorded a sea temperature of 68F on Wednesday, July 23 and that is the warmest sea water ever recorded here on Monterey Bay since 1987 when records have been kept. Normally Monterey beaches are wetsuit environments due to the water typically being around 60F. The past two weeks around southern Monterey Bay have been like southern California beach water. This is the only time I ever recall quite a number of bikini-clad women swimming at the beaches around these parts.

Monterey Bay buoy

Apparently our recent warm ocean spell is an anomaly that will soon come to an end as winds return and stir up the cold water of Monterey Bay.

Seeing so many whales from shore in summer has been a real treat.

Check out the whale photos slideshow from KSBW News for outstanding photos of whales and dolphins around Monterey Bay this week.

Monterey Bay humpback KSBW

Whale photos slideshow on with high quality photo of humpback whale breaching in Moss Landing on same day we saw humpbacks in Carmel Bay.

Humpback whales snack at Santa Cruz wharf – Monterey Herald (July 22, 2014)

Monterey Bay buoy records record-high water temperature – KSBW News (July 24, 2014)