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What Whales & Dolphins You Can Expect to See on Your Tour

Humpback whale leaps out of the water

Whale watching Dana Point CA trips are unlike any other whale and dolphin watching trips in the world. Being the Whale Watching Capital of the World®, Dana Point whale watching trips leave locals and visitors alike both astounded and humbled at the vast array of marine wildlife spotted right outside our Dana Harbor.

As curious ocean lovers make their way to our gorgeous Southern California coastline to take a peek at whales and dolphins, they often visit our FAQ page in hopes of finding out what they can expect to see during their whale watching tour.

Whale watching Dana Point CA trips enable passengers to see a variety of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife during their whale watching in Southern California. The slew of species one can see during Dana Point whale watching season ranges from 200-ton mammals to whisker wearing sea lions, and we are stoked to share the specifics regarding the incredible animals you may see during your whale watching Dana Point CA safari.

Tours operated by Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari can get you up close and personal with many of these incredible animals, including a large number of whale species. As you and your clan sport up some glee to watch whales, you’ll be thrilled to find out that we see the most massive mammal on the planet, the blue whale.

Blue whale tail seen during Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California

Blue whales generally touchdown in our waters during the summer to fall whale season in Southern California during the months of May to November.  During your whale watching Dana Point CA trip, these 400,000 pound, 110 feet long, giants stop in to say hello as they feed on small krill in our nutrient-dense waters. With one of the largest concentration of blue whales in the world, the waters along Dana Point are rich with these remarkable animals.

When whale watching in Dana Point CA, you may also see some of our most favorite barnacled bejeweled and lice covered friends, the gray whales. These 40 to 50 foot, 80,000-pound whales migrate from their feeding ground in the Arctic to their breeding and birthing grounds in Baja, Mexico, during their 12,000 round trip annual migration. During their migration, they cruise past our picturesque city during the months of December and May where onlookers can take a look at them and their speckled selves during their one-of-a-kind whale watching trips.

Captain Dave’s whale watching tours also enable passengers to see whale sightings of year-round whales that leave us breathless. One species includes the high-spirited yet graceful whale, the humpback whale. These big-winged whales are familiar year-round guests during whale watching Dana Point CA safari’s, blessing us with their fun acrobatics. They measure in at 40-50 feet, weigh up to 40 tons, and are often distinguished by their long pectoral flippers and knobbly heads.

Humpback Whale jumping out of the water in front of Dana Point, CA

In addition to the humpback whale, there are several other species of whales you can expect to see making year-round visits during whale watching Dana Point CA trips. These whales include the fast and sleek fin whale, and the smallest member of the baleen whale family, the minke whale.

The fin whale is the second-largest baleen whale, following the colossal blue whale. Nicknamed the greyhound of the sea, these 80-ton, 70 to 80 foot long cruisers can swim at short bursts of up to 23 miles per hour. Fin whales greet whale watching Dana Point CA visitors all year round along with the somewhat “small”, yet most abundant baleen species, the minke whale.

Overhead view of minke whale from a drone

Minke whales are 26 to 30 feet in length and weigh around 20,000 pounds. Although somewhat shy during whale watching Dana Point CA excursions, they are a sight to behold, and thankfully one we can see all year round.

The breathtaking sightings don’t stop there though. During a whale watching Dana Point CA trip, ocean voyagers aboard a dolphin and whale watching safari can score the opportunity to take a gander at several more unique and special species including whales such as the sperm whale, pilot whale, and the famous killer whale, (which is technically a member of the dolphin family, often referred to as an orca.)

Speaking of dolphins, whale watching Dana Point CA passengers have a high chance of spotting up to five different species of dolphins. From bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, pacific white-sided dolphins, and short and long-beaked common dolphins, our waters are abundant with these curious and clever cetaceans. In fact, Southern California is home to more dolphins than anywhere else in the world! We have over 400,000 common dolphins off of our coast, making these friendly mammals a common sight to see during a whale watching Dana Point CA expedition.

Capt. Dave's catamaran Manute'a and a dolphin stampede

With all the fun we have with our fin-wearing friends throughout the year, our whale watching Dana Point CA adventures also include fun with a tremendous amount of other wildlife. These animals are not related to whales and dolphins, but they often share the same space. From seals, sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, and sardines, to mola mola, mackerel, and magnificent pelagic birds, it usually just requires a quick glance up, down, or all-around to spot one of these spectacular species of wildlife while aboard a whale watching Dana Point CA trip.

From massive blue whales, barnacled bejeweled gray whales, lively humpbacks, stunning sperm whales, and sleek and speedy fin whales, to natures top predator the killer whale, curious common dolphins, and soaring brown pelicans, the wildlife you could expect to see during a whale watching Dana Point CA trip is almost endless. With over seventy different species of different critters to catch sight of, your chances of seeing something spectacular are higher than the bright and beautiful SoCal sun above.

Humpback whale on Dolphin and Whale Watch

With daily, year-round, dolphin and whale watching safaris disembarking from the famous Dana Point Harbor, our five-star team at Captain Dave’s are counting down the minutes until you join us for an absolutely unforgettable adventure. While nature and wildlife can be both unpredictable and surprising, we see wildlife nearly 95% of the time, giving you the opportunity to enjoy an amazing experience that you won’t soon forget.

We hope to see you soon!

Until then,

Your Friends at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari