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A Look at Our “Largest Exhibit”

The recent sighting of a pod of orca whales created quite a stir here at the Aquarium. So we wondered: What else can you expect to see off our decks? To find out, we asked the folks who know best: our expert guide staff. They’re fond of telling people that the bay is the largest and most dynamic exhibit at the Aquarium!

It’s common to see seals, sea lions, sea otters and pelicans, but below are a few species you might not expect. Of course, we can’t guarantee what you’ll see. It’s nature, after all!

Humpback whales: Here through October as they follow krill and baitfish around the bay.

Blue whales: First sightings just reported (late May)! Gone by early September.

Orca whales: Can be seen any time, but more often from whale-watching boats than from our decks. The recent pod was the first seen from the Aquarium in many years!

Risso’s dolphins: Can be seen all year—often jumping clear of the water! They follow squid, so if squid fishing boats are around, watch for Risso’s.

Pelagic cormorants: These birds are starting to fledge their young right under our decks. Juveniles are brown instead of shiny black, and don’t quite know how to fly yet. They make clumsy attempts, then climb back up to their nests and sulk!

Pigeon guillemots: These birds lay eggs under our decks at this time of year and are here until late August. The entire community seems to fledge their young on one night, then leave by the time we arrive the next morning!

Western gulls: We currently have a nest, with eggs, on the ledge outside our restaurant. It will be entertaining to watch the chicks develop and fledge.

You might also see other whales (blue, minke) and dolphins (bottlenose, white-sided, common). Our staff has even seen bald eagles, horned puffins, deer (under the deck), raccoons (on the deck), herons (fishing in the Coastal Stream exhibit), an elephant seal (in the Great Tide Pool) and even an enormous basking shark.

We’d like to know: how many species have you seen off our decks?

Can’t make it to the Aquarium? Check out our live cam!

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