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  • Writer's pictureEryn

Sea Life of Monterey Bay

Eryn takes a photo in front of a Monterey Bay Aquarium tank
Entranced by the light of a kelp-filled tank in Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bustling with marine life, Monterey is truly the place for a sea lover. While plump sea lions socialize loudly near the shores of Monterey Bay, humpback whales and orcas are just waiting to be discovered out at sea. Moreover, there is the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we were able to see some incredible life up close. For a chance to witness Monterey's sea life in the wild, however, we soon found ourselves on a whale-watching boat, buzzing with excitement in anticipation of what we might glimpse.

A shark swims by a school of small fish circling a stalk of kelp in a tank in the Monterey Bay Aquarium

We began the cruise slowly as we left the harbor, obeying the rules of the "No Wake Zone" where all boats are confined to a speed of 5 miles per hour which also seemingly ensures that the sea lions may nap in peace! With the clamor of the sea lions barking in the background, we leaned over the sides of the boat and even spotted sea otters floating blissfully on their backs. Soon, as the noise of the sea lions softened, the boat began to speed up, the sea quite violently rocking us from side to side and lifting us up and down. The wind and its freezing breath howled in our faces and I drew my jacket closer around my body as we watched the mainland quickly fade into the distance.

Three sea lions sleep under a dock with a sign saying "No Wake Zone, All Boats 5 M.P.H." in Monterey Bay
In the "No Wake Zone," humans are not allowed to exceed boat speeds that might "wake" the sleeping sea lions

After a while of navigating the open sea, we abruptly made a turn. Three boats had gathered in the middle of the ocean, apparently lying in wait. We rushed to the edge of the boat, and suddenly, a burst of seawater exploded out of the waves. Orcas! The black and white trio investigated each boat in turn, diving under the boat's bottoms and shocking the passengers with sudden appearances. As their long, pointed dorsal fins sliced through the surface of the water, we all gazed at these killer whales and what are the largest dolphins on Earth in wonder. They gave us a few more glances before their curiosity was seemingly fulfilled, and soon descended back into the unknown deep.

An orca whale surfacing from the water where the top of its head and dorsal fin is visible near Monterey Bay
A black and white orca at the surface of the water in Monterey Bay

Time passed quickly and as we began to make our way back to the mainland, humpback whales soon appeared! Their lumpy backs skimmed the surface as the wind carried their misty breaths. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop and admire these majestic animals, and after a quick glimpse, our boat raced back to shore. We soon returned to the peaceful sea otters and loud sea lions, reluctantly setting foot on land once again.

The dorsal fin of a humpback whale above the surface of the water in Monterey Bay


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