Best places to watch whales migrate... besides from the deck of your Dillon Beach vacation home!
The number one spot for watching gray whales in Sonoma County has to be Bodega Head, the headland associated with Bodega Bay. Because of the topography of the land, this is the point where the gray whales tend to come the closest to shore. You can often watch the calves interacting with their mothers, which can lead to lots of exclamatory remarks if you happen to be standing in a crowd, which can certainly happen on the weekends when hundreds of people migrate to this spot to watch the whales. Don't be surprised if the whales start to intently watch all those people on the bluff as they are just as curious about us as we are about them. It is a thrill to be checked out by a giant whale!
The favorite food of gray whales are krill. These are tiny shrimp like creatures which congregate on the bottom of the ocean in the soft sediment. When grey whales dive, they use their sieves called baleen to slurp up the soft sediment and trap the krill. This is the same food source they eat in massive quantities in the Arctic waters of Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea. It's also how they make their blubber.
Gray whales migrate more than 11,000 miles a year between the Arctic, where they have their richest feeding grounds, and Baja California where they mate and bear their calves. The Sonoma coastline just happens to be a favorite spot for them to linger a bit before continuing their journey.
Other excellent viewing points are Point Reyes and Jenner!
Best Time to go Whale Watching
In general, the best time to spot the gray whale pods is in the winter with the peak being from about the middle of January through the middle of February. If you want to see a tail fluke, you need to look for gray whales that are actively feeding. Just before they dive deep, they will flip their tail fluke high out of the water. This gives them more thrust to get to the bottom where the food is! This is the point where you may be most impressed with their enormous strength! Remember, gray whales can weigh up to 45 tons. That's 45 x 2000 = 90,000 lbs! Their size and enormous strength explains why their only predators are Orca whales and sometimes sharks.