Seasons in the Sea - A month-by-month guide to Central California sea life

Section contents:

Gray whale fluke: Image credit-Steven Swartz, NOAA

Marine mammals

in August

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Diver-at-work symbol (c) Kim Fulton-Bennett This page under construction.
Here are some of the topics that will be covered in this chapter. More text and images will eventually be added to this section. Thank you for your patience.

Marine mammal events in August:

  • Krill, humpbacks, and blue whales reach peak abundance. Blue whales most often found along the edge of Monterey Canyon or along the edge of the continental shelf, where huge, dense swarms of krill congregate.
  • A few less-common whales, such as fin whales and beaked whales may appear around Monterey Bay.
  • White-sided dolphins and common dolphins (warm-water species) become more common, following the anchovies northward up the coast. Some of the female Pacific white-sided dolphins may be accompanied by baby dolphins just a month or two old. By this time, Dall's and Harbor porpoises have left the bay, along with their young.
  • Harbor seals gather on shore (e.g. in Elkhorn Slough) to molt in August. After molting, they head back out to sea to eat octopus and market squid.
  • Adult sea lions (mostly males) make their way northward the Central Coast after breeding in Southern California. They stop to feed and hang out at prime spots in Monterey Bay, Ano Nuevo, and the Farallon Islands.
  • By August, the pups of Steller sea lions that were born in June begin to forage on their own. Adult male steller sea lions leave the Central Coast in late August or September, but the females and young may stay until October.
  • White sharks begin to arrive in Central Coast waters in late August, after spending the summer at the "white-shark cafĂ©" between California and Hawaii. At this time of year, they roam widely along the coast, feeding on sea lions, harbor seals, and young dolphins. Over the next month or so, they will congregate around Ano Nuevo and other elephant-seal breeding grounds, to hunt the young yearling seals returning to shore. August is the beginning of the riskiest season for white-shark attacks on people along the Central California Coast. This high-risk season will continue until October or November.
  • Sea otters mate all year, but mating is most common between July and September, after the main crop of young otters (born in Jan-Feb) have been weaned.
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