Winter Wildlife in Monterey

Winter Wildlife in Monterey

In many areas of the country, the winter months are reason to head indoors and wait out the cold. Here in Monterey, however, the outdoors are still tolerable and they offer fresh experiences with a diverse wildlife scene. Here are some winter animals you can spot on your upcoming visit.

Baby Seals

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a prime spot for seeing sea lions, otters, and baby seals during the winter months. Harbor seal pups are born between February and April, and they can weigh as little as twenty pounds during these early months. Talk about a major dose of adorable.

Gray Whales

Whale watching is popular in Monterey, and for good reason. During the winter months, massive gray whales travel over 10,000 miles from Alaska to Mexico, passing right by us along the way. For insights on how to see this mind-blowing  creatures up close, check out our guide to whale watching in Monterey.


The winter season also lends itself to orca sightings, often in company with the gray whales on the same migration down south. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are the gorgeous black-skinned, white-eyed dolphins seen in movies like Free Willy. These beautiful animals can weigh up to 12,000 lbs a piece, adding to their visual splendor.

Winter Birds

Throughout the year, Monterey is a popular destination for birders from around the world. Whether or not you’re active in the birding community, checking out the wintering shorebirds who visit our town is pretty breathtaking. Among the many flying specimens who grace our shores, you can see brown pelicans, tons of ducks, surfbirds, turnstones, and buffleheads.

Monarch Butterflies

Huge, gorgeous clouds of orange and black monarchs fly throughout Monterey County during the winter months. Head over to nearby Pacific Grove, which is known as the butterfly capital of the country for some sure-fire sightings. This region is the only place where these beautiful bugs flock to during the winter months, so travelers should take advantage while they’re here.