California

The whales are back in the waters off SLO County. Catch them while you can

Humpback whales circle a whale-watching boat near Morro Bay

Whale watchers look on as a pod of humpback whales circles a boat just off the coast of Morro Bay, California.
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Whale watchers look on as a pod of humpback whales circles a boat just off the coast of Morro Bay, California.

The humpbacks are back in full force on the Central Coast.

Kevin Winfield, captain and co-owner of Sub Sea Tours in Morro Bay, said since May he has seen the number of whales increase in the area. Now he's seeing as many as 12 to 15 humpback whales on daily whale watching tours off the coast of Morro Bay.

"It looks like it's going to be a good year," Winfield said Monday.

Whales, whales, whales!!! Bunches of HUMPBACKS around now

A post shared by Morro Bay Whale Watching (@morrobaywhalewatching) on

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Winfield said the whales have arrived in large groups to feed in the waters along the Central Coast in recent months after mating and breeding off the coast of Central America during the winter. Winfield said he also spotted a blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, on a tour last week, a somewhat rare occurrence on the Central Coast.

Most of the humpback whale sightings have been about three miles off the coast of Morro Bay in 200 feet of water, Winfield said.

"There is a lot of bait out there," Winfield said. "Later in the summer the whales will come closer to shore and you will be able to see them all over from Cayucos to Avila Beach."

Whale watching tours near Avila Beach have been successful of late as well, too, according to a blog from Central Coast Sailing and Avila Beach Whale Watching. Four humpbacks were spotted swimming through the bay last week, and a mother and young calf were seen Sunday.

Winfield said he expects the whales to hang around the area until late October.

How to watch

You can book a Morro Bay whale watching tours at MorroBayWhaleWatching.com or check out Central Coast Sailing Charters for tours in the Avila Beach and Port San Luis area.

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Drone footage captured off Pismo Beach by Dustin McCaslin of Bakersfield shows a group of sea lions and three humpback whales feeding off the Central Coast.

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