Celebrating Earth Day in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This morning, we had the opportunity to go on a whale watching tour with Monterey Bay Whale Watch.  We wanted to see, first-hand, why this area is famous for wildlife sightings.  Our checklist of encountered species included California sea lions, sea otters, cormorants, rhinoceros auklets, black-footed albatrosses, Pacific white-sided dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.  However, the true highlight of our trip was time spent observing two humpback whales.

California sea lion
Pacific white-sided dolphin
Humpback whale fluke

Despite their size, humpback whales are incredibly agile in the water.  Acrobatic displays while on the water’s surface tend to make humpbacks crowd favorites.  We were lucky today to observe two whales interacting for almost an hour.  Displays included breaching, tail lobbing, flippering, and tail throwing.  What a wonderful way to start Earth Day 2012!

Tail lobbing