Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Journal Fact
Whales are huge animals that spend most of their time underwater. However, because they are mammals rather than fish, they have to come to the surface to breathe. When they do surface, they can make quite a spectacle, which is why San Diego whale watching tours are so popular. Here are some things you should know if you are thinking about taking a whale watching excursion in March.
Is March Good for Whale Watching?
From a human perspective, March is a good month for whale watching. Winter is winding down and spring is just beginning. This means that temperatures are warming up, but have not yet climbed to the highs that they will reach in summer. As a result, the temperature should be comfortable for your March whale-watching excursion, though you should dress in layers in case the weather is on the chilly side. Part of the reason that people engage in private whale watching off San Diego is that the city has a 70-mile stretch of coastline that is part of the migratory routes of several different whale species. Different species migrate at different times of the year, so the question isn’t whether March is a good time for whale watching but what types of whales you are most likely to see.
What Whales Are Migrating in March?
The largest whale migration to take place off the San Diego coast annually is that of the gray whale. Every year, from roughly December through April, approximately 20,000 gray whales migrate from their feeding grounds near Alaska down to the Mexican coast, where they give birth to their young, and then back again. In March, gray whales are starting to make the return trip from Mexico back to Alaska. Gray whales are recognizable by their heart-shaped whale spouts that they give off because they have two blowholes on top of their head. A blowhole is a modified nostril that a whale uses to breathe. Some species, like the gray whale, have two blowholes, while other species only have one.
Fin whales are most likely to be near the San Diego coast between November and March, though it is also possible to see them at other times. The fin whale is second only to the blue whale in size. Also impressive is the fin whales’ speed; they can swim up to 23 miles per hour. Fin whales have a broad back that features a curved dorsal fin.
Not all the whales you can see off the San Diego coast are migratory. Minke whales are present year-round and are therefore known as residential whales. Minke whales are relatively small, with stocky bodies, but they do have a curved dorsal fin that may stick up above the water as the whales break the surface to breathe. If they stick their heads above water, you can see their pointed snouts.
Humpback whales are also common off the San Diego coast. These whales are known to make a big splash, literally, by propelling themselves out of the water. When they dive, they often show off their wide tail flukes.
Research ahead of time to find a whale watching company with a high success rate that takes good care of its guests.