‘Peak' Whaleness Happening Now, in Monterey

The grey whale migration is in full and fluke-tastic force off the coast.

HOW DO WE ACT... when we know someone might be observing us? Do we stand a little straighter, hold our head up higher, or simply go about whatever task we were engaged in, without a care of being watched or not? It's not a question we need to put to the grey whales, which are very much watched, and looked for, and wowed over, around wintertime. They're too busy migrating south, to those wonderfully warm lagoons off the coast of Mexico, and whether there might be humans in the vicinity, on boats or on bluffs, or no one at all, matters not to these mega mammals. They've got things to do, places to be, and they're moving forward, with purpose. We humans know those categories well, too — things to do, places to be — but pausing when cooler temps arrive to witness this stirring annual sight could very easily and accurately go in the "highly important" column on our to-do lists. And few places deliver on delivering whale-based awe like Monterey, which is in the thick of whale migration each January.

WHICH IS NOW, as of this typing, and the gray-greatness going on around the peninsula is huge, in all senses. "You can spot as many as 10 species of whales and dolphins from the back deck of the Monterey Bay Aquarium," says Mimi Hahn, Aquarium Chief Marketing Office. "They are spectacular signs of the vibrancy of Monterey Bay and why we like to say it's actually our best exhibit." How to get a bit closer to the grey whales, and the orcas, and the Risso's dolphins, and the minke whales, if you want to venture out onto the waves? Whale watching tour companies in both Monterey and Moss Landing have daily trips out onto the water, where, fins crossed, flukes and blowholes will be seen. It is, after all, the "Whale Watching Capital of the World," and while sightings are never guaranteed, a peek at any tour company's social media feeds reveal that whales and dolphins are frequently spotted. See Monterey is a good start for your whale-watching longings, and keep in mind, too, that the yearly Whalefest Monterey swims into town over the final weekend of January 2018.

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