The annual whale migration down the California coast has been getting lots of attention this year due to the numbers and types of these mammals making the journey. A near record number of anchovies in Monterey Bay is attracting not only large numbers of grey whales (the usually sighted in this area) but also humpbacks, orcas, and the occasional blue whale. One radio story described the behavior of the whales hanging around the Bay to feed like trucks pulling off the turnpike to the local buffet. They will eventually get back on the road but much fuller than normal.
We noticed a few whales while there before Christmas; you can see their spouts from the shore on a day when the ocean has few whitecaps. What surprised us was how close to the shore they were traveling. Usually a good pair of binoculars helps spot them but all the ones we saw were less than 1/4 mile offshore and their spouts easily seen by the naked eye.
The images below are of three grey whales cruising past Pt. Lobos south of Carmel. The sun was out over the water so their spouts were being backlit against a somewhat smooth ocean. They seem to take their time until you try and set up some shots; then you notice they are relentless in their journey as they cruise out of range in just a few minutes.