Wildlife Checklist: Summer Animals of Monterey & Monterey Bay

Wildlife Checklist: Summer Animals of Monterey & Monterey Bay

With summer upon us, we’re excited to point guests in the right direction to experience the great outdoors of Monterey and the Central Coast. Among the many activities you can do in the sun—i.e. hiking, going to the beach, golfing, wine tasting—wildlife viewing stands out as one of the region’s most unique and rewarding. Finding animals in the wild here is especially cool, because the waters of Monterey Bay attract a wide variety of whales throughout the year. 

To help our guests find the creatures they adore most, this is our wildlife checklist of summer animals to see in Monterey. 

Sooty Shearwaters

The sooty shearwater is one of the most interesting birds in the world (with one of the best names as well, in our opinion). The medium-sized seabird will breed on islands around Australia and New Zealand during the fall after a long migration that makes a figure-eight pattern across the Northern Hemisphere. The roundabout route brings the gorgeous birds, which travel in large crowds through Monterey Bay in the summer and fall. 

There are many beautiful locations to go bird watching in Monterey this summer. You’ll give yourself a good chance at spotting a sooty shearwater by visiting local outdoors destinations like Pinnacles National Park, Point Lobos State Reserve, and marina Dunes Open Space Preserve near The Sanctuary Beach Resort. For more recommendations, check out our guide to Monterey for Bird Lovers

Humpback Whales

Monterey Bay is a popular whale-watching destination throughout a given year, and the summer months see some of the most jaw-dropping members of this beautiful species. Humpback whales migrate from warm winter homes around Central America up to Monterey Bay during the spring, summer and fall. Known as acrobatic creatures, the humpbacks are popular for breaching the water, and jumping up throwing their tails. 

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find whale watching opportunities in and around Monterey. In fact, if you decide to stay with The Sanctuary Beach Resort on your next trip to the area, check out our Whale Watching in Monterey Bay Package. This deal includes two tickets for whale watching at Fisherman’s Wharf with your room fee, baking this unforgettable experience into your hotel reservations. 


Large whale migrations to Monterey in the spring, summer and fall are the product of the warming sea’s abundant nutrients, and vast population of smaller fish to feed on. For this reason, other sea predators like sharks tend to travel here during the summer months, too. The idea of sharks may seem scary at first, but they’re magnificent—and, sadly, increasingly endangered—creatures. Among the variety of sharks you can spot in Monterey Bay during the summer, there can be Great White Sharks, Blue Sharks, and Mako Sharks. The best way to spot these creatures in the sea is to head out on one of the local Monterey Bay whale watching trips. 

Bottlenose Dolphins

You can find unique Monterey wildlife by checking out the migratory patterns of various whales and sharks, but there are also a number of amazing creatures who hang here all year round. The bottlenose dolphin, for example, is super active in the Monterey Bay area throughout a given year. 

The Bottlenose dolphin is a large species that can run upwards of thirteen-feet long, and they like to travel in packs, hopping out of the water with ease. From a whale-watching boat, or even just from the shores of Monterey Bay, you can catch these gorgeous mammals doing their thing on any given Monterey summer day. 

Discover More of Monterey Bay

Planning a visit to the shores of Monterey Bay? Experience the region like a local, following our insider recommendations on the Sanctuary Beach Resort blog!