What Migrating Gray Whales Look Like Up Close
January 27th, 2014|SofiaBlog


Gray Whale Migration San DiegoHere in San Diego, one of the singular delights of being a next door neighbor to the Pacific Ocean is glimpsing the biggest animals in the world cavorting just offshore. From orcas to blues, our waters support a rich diversity of whales, and there are many opportunities for excellent viewing.

Indeed, some of the very best in regional whale watching is upon us: the annual migration of Eastern North Pacific gray whales. Whether you’re heading offshore on a cruise or scouting from land, you’ve got a good chance of spotting some of these gentle behemoths this winter or spring.

Gray Whale Season

Mid-December through April is the main season during which gray whales pass along the San Diego coast. The animals head between feeding waters in the Bering and Chuckchi seas thousands of miles to the north and wintering lagoons in Baja California, where they mate and give birth. From late fall through winter, whales are heading south off California; in early spring, they pass by again northbound.

This 10,000-mile roundtrip migration is one of the planet’s greatest, and we San Diegans are lucky to have a leg of it right in our backyard.

An Unforgettable Experience

A 50-foot-long, 80,000 pound gray whale is a mesmerizing creature to see in the wild. From shoreline vantages such as the overlooks in Cabrillo National Monument, you might spot towering plumes of steam as the whales spout, or monumental tail flukes as they plunge. Sometimes you’ll even spot a breach, when the animals hurl themselves partway out of the sea in an exhilarating display.

As a participant in one of the many whale watching cruises offered out of San Diego, you might also grab breathtaking up close views of these epic beasts: broad ridged backs, barnacle-peppered snouts, “grinning” jaws lined with baleen.

During the Alaska-bound leg of the whale migration, especially later in spring, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the calves born down in Baja accompanying their mothers on the first migration of their lives.

Get yourself a room in the Sofia Hotel—just blocks from San Diego Bay and a short ride to Point Loma—and get a firsthand look at one of the West Coast’s grandest natural marvels!

Image: Ryan Harvey