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Whale Watching Eco Tour

Be an Ocean Connector and join us on our Whale Watching Eco Tour!

We will explore the Californian coast, experience the greatness of migrating whales, as well as participate in citizen science. Our three-hour naturalist guided whale watching and citizen science tour is onboard Flagship Cruises & Events vessel, the Marietta. We use binoculars to observe whales, dolphins, and birds while learning about the annual gray whale migration and marine mammal conservation. What’s more, we will also collect important data using the Whale Alert app. Which helps scientists study the whales along our coast.

Best of all, proceeds of your Eco Tour ticket goes to our nonprofit environmental education programs. Which directly support youth in underserved communities.

Duration 3-4 Hours
Group Size Maximum 14
Ticket Cost $72/Adult $46/Child
Season December — April

Whale Watching Highlights

  • Whale Watching topics include an overview of the population of gray whales along San Diego’s coast. As well as, threats and challenges facing marine mammals, and what we can do to ensure our region’s environmental health.
  • Biofacts and educational materials will be available for enhanced learning.
  • During our excursion we will record important data for any marine mammal sightings using the Whale Alert app, which helps scientists study the whales along our coast.
  • Tickets directly support our free educational programs for local students!

We loved this trip! The three gray whales were beautiful and so fun to watch. The marine biologist’s facts and knowledge really made this an enjoyable experience. Thank you!

Featured Wildlife

Whats Included

  • Three-hour naturalist guided whale watching excursion aboard the Flagship Cruises & Events whale watching vessel, the Marietta (departing from downtown San Diego).
  • All equipment needed: life jackets, binoculars, field guides, and even sunscreen.

What You Need to Know – Whale Watching

  • This tour is recommended for ages 6 and up, and is therefore a great option for beginner and seasoned whale watchers alike.
  • In order to prevent potential seasickness it is recommended that guests take seasickness medication. (if you have any physical limitations, please let us know if advance).
  •  Parking is available on the Navy Pier adjacent to the USS Midway Museum.
  • All participants must submit a signed liability waiver and photo release form, and participants under the age of 18 must have the waiver and form signed by a parent or guardian.
  • In response to COVID-19, all equipment is sanitized between tours and Ocean Connectors staff have been fully vaccinated. Guests are not permitted to attend an Eco Tour if they are exhibiting any symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19.

Whale Sightings by Ocean Connectors 2021/2022 season

During our Whale Watching Eco Tours and our student field trips we use the Whale Alert App to record any whales that we spot. This information is used to warn shippers when they are near whales so they can avoid a collision and initialize rescue efforts for entangled whales. We also share this data with our partners over at The Port of San Diego, they use this information to educate the public on the presence of marine mammals outside the bay and the potential impacts of vessel activity.

FAQs – Whale Watching Eco Tour

What is the best time of year to see whales?

The best time to see gray whales in San Diego is from December through mid-April. This is when they travel past our coast on their annual migration. Our tours only run during the peak gray whale season.

How likely are we to see whales?

Wildlife is unpredictable and sightings are never guaranteed. However, the Flagship captains are in contact with other vessels and whale spotters and we typically see whales on over 80% of our tours. We spot dolphins on almost every tour, occasionally we also spot humpback whales, and if we are really lucky orcas!

What other types of wildlife could we see?

There is a plethora of marine life right off the coast of San Diego, including sea lions, dolphins, and sea birds! Our marine biologist tour guide also has a lot of information to share about the annual gray whale migration and marine mammal conservation, making it a memorable day even if we do not spot whales.

What makes this an “eco” tour?

Ocean Connectors is a nonprofit program with a mission to educate, inspire, and connect youth in underserved Pacific coastal communities through the study of migratory marine life. When you purchase your Eco Tour ticket all proceeds go directly back to our youth education programs. All of our tours focus on environmental education and conservation and align with our mission to educate, inspire and connect. We hope to inspire guests to get involved in protecting our oceans! On our Whale Watching Eco Tour we also participate in citizen science, directly contributing to research and the protection of the whales in our region.

What is citizen science?

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in research to increase scientific knowledge. Citizen science helps with gathering scientific data as well as fostering community involvement. On this tour we will gather data of any whale sightings using the Whale Alert App. This information helps scientists to: warn shippers when they are near whales so they can avoid collision, initiate rescue efforts for entangled whales, and provide data for better understanding and management of the whale populations off our coast.

How does my ticket purchase support youth education?

Ocean Connectors provides presentations and field trips for all public elementary and middle schools in National City, as well as 27 schools in Nayarit, Mexico. All our youth education is free of charge, and our vison is to cultivate a future generation of passionate, globally-aware, and empowered coastal residents who take active steps to enjoy and protect ocean health. All proceeds of your ticket price goes directly toward these youth education programs. All our 5th grade students use the gray whale as a case study and attend whale watching excursions with Flagship Cruises and Events every year!

Planning a special occasion or team-building event?

Don’t see the date/time/ tour you are looking for?

Contact for requests about additional dates, private tours, and group bookings. 

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