Local Montauk Whale Watching 2022
Our 27th year with Viking Fleet of Montauk, NY
By: A. H. Kopelman, Ph.D.
SINCE 2009 - 93.65% SUCCESS RATE IN FINDING CETACEANS (177 OUT OF 189 TRIPS)
Join the crew with over 34 years of whale watching experience. Come away with great memories, great photos and videos, and an education about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and marine life that is second-to-none.
Please note that the Viking Fleet supports CRESLI's work through in-kind donations of providing the vessel and vessel crew, and some funds per trip. We are eternally grateful to the Viking Fleet for our decades of collaboration
- The Viking Fleet and CRESLI are offering special family friendly marine cruises focusing on the sights of the ocean! Enjoy a day on the water with your family looking for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds and sunfish. Along the way you can view the Montauk lighthouse and all the landmarks of the east end.
- A qualified naturalist / marine biologist will narrate the tour and answer all of your questions!
- The Viking boats are equipped with clean restrooms, comfortable seating and full galleys onboard. We recommend reservations. You can either do so by phone (631-668-5700) or https://vikingfleet.com/activities/whale-watching/
- The trips will depart the dock at 2:00 PM and return at 7:00 PM
The fare for these trips is $80 for adults, $50 for children 5-12y/o, FREE for Children 4 and under
Whether our trips take place are dependent upon weather and sea conditions. Be sure to check the Marine Forecast for the waters around Montauk
View trips photos "Best of the 2021 CRESLI Whale Watch Season" photos.
All photo purchases help support our work.
CRESLI 2021 Daily Whale Watch Sighting Reports
Saturday June 26, 2021
Brief encounter with 20 Inshore bottlenose dolphins and good variety of pelagic birds
The Viking Fleet and CRESLI began our 26th consecutive season of whale watching trips slowly, i.e., finding dolphins. While we were successful in finding cetaceans (the group of animals that include whales, dolphins, and porpoises), our encounter with 20 inshore bottlenose dolphins was brief. We saw them crossing our bow about 500 yards away, but never really got good views of photographs. The dolphins seemed to be intent on feeding and quickly moved away. While we tried to find them again, we were unsuccessful.
The pelagic bird life was quite good, seeing 5 different species including 30 Cory’s shearwaters, 8 Great shearwaters, 1 Sooty shearwater, 1 Manx shearwater, and around 50 Wilson storm petrels
A good way start to the 2021 season. We hope to find more tomorrow
Humpback and another day with a good variety of pelagic birds
We left the dock at Montauk to clearing skies and fair weather for the second trip of the season. Today the Viking Starship rounded Montauk Point and cruised southeast. Over the next few hours we covered a lot of ocean searching for whales. We observed good numbers and a variety of seabirds along our trip. Eventually we were excited to start seeing isolated "blows" in the distance. We proceeded to close with the whale but it was not making many visible blows and was moving, not feeding in one place. We continued to search heading closer to Long Island and saw a few blows, probably indicating more than one whale in the vicinity. At one point we saw two blows close together, one larger and one smaller, so perhaps a cow-calf pair.
Wednesday June 30, 2021
We left the dock at Montauk to look for whales and escape the heat. Once we got into water with sea surface temperatures in the 63-640F, we relished the cool air. The winds were as predicted, SW at 15-20 knots, the seas were as predicted also at 3-4 feet. We headed SW 8 for nautical miles and saw few birds and no cetaceans. We then headed due east and 3 nautical miles later, a whale blows right next to us. It was a faint blow, but a blow none-the-less. This was our first encounter with what eventually was identified as young finback whale ~45' long. We slowly followed this deep diving, 5-8 minute diving whale for 5 nautical miles, the whale was feeding near the bottom (120') on dense prey patches. The sea conditions and the speed of this whale made it nearly impossible to clearly identify (although we believe it to be a fin whale) until it steeply surfaced and we could see the unique fin whale characteristics: white right lower jar, blaze, eye stripe, chevron. This whale had distinctive killer whale raking scars on its dorsal fin, and entanglement scars across its back.
What an amazing sight! What a special day! Our 168th identifiable fin whale since 2009!
Sunday July 4, 2021
Pelagic birds – yes! Cetaceans – no!
After 31 consecutive successful trips since July 17, 2019 and for only the 11th time since 2009, we were unable to find a cetacean (whale, dolphin, or porpoise. The conditions were excellent, with unlimited visibility, clear skies, cool temperatures (sea surface temperatures from 52.850F to 67.730F). We traveled over 40nm and encountered pelagic birds often, we saw no whales. Their prey has begun to show up abundantly, in some areas from the surface to the bottom. We will find them again
Wednesday July 7, 2021
We’re back at it again: Humpback and short-beaked common dolphins!
It was the perfect day to get on the water, escape the heat, and look for whales and dolphins. The visibility was good, as were the seas and we headed out to the SSE. It was an hour before we found our first blows from a humpback whale. We traveled with this whale as it searched for food over the next 75 minutes and 2 nautical miles, sometimes being down for 7-8 minutes. This was a young humpback and one we’d not seen before, our 139th different humpback off Montauk since 2009. On our way back, we encountered a rambunctious pod of 30 short-beaked common dolphins
Saturday July 10, 2021
An Awesome Day of Whales and Dolphins!
We left Montauk today with overcast skies, heading southeast to where we had previously seen whales. As soon as we passed Montauk Point, we had reports of dolphins close inshore, south of the point. We headed over and soon came upon a pod of about 10 bottlenose dolphins.
Sunday July 11, 2021
Another Awesome Day of Whales and Dolphins!
We left Montauk today with unlimited visibility and headed to where we had seen whales on Saturday. As soon as we passed Montauk Point, we looked for dolphins and continued heading southeast. Our first blows were from a whale seen on Saturday. This poor whale is identifiable because of a massive set of propeller scars on its right side and its dorsal fin was mostly gone. This is a young whale that had been seen in the NY harbor area and catalogued as NYC0224 by our colleagues at Gotham Whale. It was last seen around NYC on 6/25. We stayed with this whale for a while and headed to a second whale in the area. We ultimately met and photographed 4 humpbacks on this trip. They were busy feeding and looking for food, often times coming up right next to us to check us out. We are never in gear when waiting for whales to surface and presented no threats. After a few hours with the whales, it was time to head back. On our way in we saw a groups of about 40 bottlenose dolphins and we stayed with them for a bit before proceeded back. By the way, we did have to retrieve many balloons on this trip, please never release helium filled balloons!
7 Hammerhead sharks, a tail throwing/slapping humpback, bottlenose dolphins, and too many balloons!
We headed out to look for whales and once again to escape from the heat. The visibility was 4 miles at first, but continued to open up as we headed south for a while, then east and after 2 hours from the dock we found our 1st surprise - a large hammerhead shark (unsure of which species). Every direction we moved brought us new hammerhead sharks. Over 0.6 nautical miles, we encountered 7 different hammerheads. That's a record for us. As we continued on, we saw little, and picked up too many balloons (c'mon folks it's time to stop), but never stopped looking. At around 6 PM we saw a blow in the distance, and soon smelled the putrid, fetid, foul odor of a humpback with a possible lung infection (whale flu, as termed by Dr. Paul Forestell and others). The whale (NYC0084) was tail-throwing and tail-slapping (behaviors often used for non-vocal communication). We were in 130' of water, but the prey were only 35' down, so this whale did some low-fluking dives in search of food. We eventually had to leave, just as a small pod of about 20 bottlenose dolphins paid us a brief visit. We headed in through pea soup fog and returned late, but happy.
Another double species day! Humpbacks and minke whales!
We headed out to excellent conditions with nearly unlimited visibility,2-3 foot seas,and reports of whales and dolphins nearby. With the predicted stormy conditions to occur within a few hours, we headed west and stayed nearer to shore than on previous trips. Spoiler alert - the predicted severe weather passed to our south. We found 2 humpbacks and a minke over a 2 nautical mile stretch. Both were young and active. One was tail throwing, and later breached right next to us. The 2nd whale was resting (logging) quite often, interspersed with dives and close approaches. Our 1st humpback showed up again and we watched it follow bunker (Atlantic menhaden) and lunge feed though large piles of bunker.
Minke whale, bunker, and Ocean sunfish!
Beautiful day to be out on the water today, calm seas of 1 – 2 feet, unlimited visibility and water temperature between 70 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit. While traveling west along the coast of Montauk we came upon a large school of bunker (Atlantic Menhaden). Hoping to find some cetaceans looking for a nice meal but not luck. Traveling away from the coast, we found an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) which swam directly next to the boat giving everyone onboard a great view. Traveling further away from shore a Minke whale gave us three quick views before disappearing out of sight
A special day!! 8 humpback whales,1 minke whale, 120 bottlenose dolphins!!
8 humpback whales
2 humpback whales
Within 20 minutes of passing the Montauk Lighthouse, we saw our first whale spout. We spent some time with this young humpback whale giving us a blow or two and before diving down. Showing us its tail fluke, presumably to forage on baitfish close to sea floor and then surfacing every three minutes or so. This humpback gave us a peduncle throw for everyone to see as well. Continuing heading west, we saw another young humpback whale giving us a blow or two before diving. This humpback only fluked once likely feeding close to the surface. Overall, a very nice day out on the water with unlimited visibility.
Another successful trip! 2minkes and 1 humpback!
What a wonderful day we had on the Viking Starship! Unlimited visibility and crisp cool air were perfect conditions for finding whales. Again with 30 minutes of passing Montauk Light, we found a minke whale that allowed us some wonderful views as it swam repeatedly near the bow. We headed further and 45 minutes later, another minke (larger the 1st one) surfaced within 2 yards of the starboard side of our bow sprit. Captain Davy immediately stopped and the whale dove as the crew collectively held its breath. Within 30 minutes we encountered a 27-36' humpback that was one we had seen on Wednesday, We had amazing views as this whale rolled over and was logging (resting) with intermittent low-fluking and high-fluking dive to reach the massive concentrations of prey at 40' (mid-water) and 75' (bottom).
Whales in the rain!
We headed out with excellent visibility and just a light misty rain, hoping that the rain would stay to our south. Oh well, we were wrong, although when the wind was behind us, the rain was quite tolerable. We weren’t really fazed by the rain and continued to search for whales. After about an hour, a minke whale did a full-body breach just 200 yds from then port bow. It was an amazing, yet fleeting sight that only a handful of us saw. An hour later we saw the tell-tall splash of a breach and headed to find a humpback lunge feeding and taking high-fluking dives. These were great sights that made the rainy trip worthwhile. The humpback was one we’d seen in this area 2 weeks earlier.
Saturday August 7, 2021
Only fainting glimpses today.
Nice weather, favorable seas and 10+ miles of visibility, while traveling over 44 miles only yielding a few of us a brief view of a cetacean. We had an unidentified whale blow spotted by one of our CRESLI volunteers a mile or so behind us. We searched long and hard but never saw the whale come up again. A while later, a dolphin was spotted by a few members of the crew only to swim away and not seen again. We also had an unknown shark species swim by close to the boat, giving people on that side a quick view before disappearing. We do not get many trips like this with great conditions and little to no sightings. Our track record says we will have better days in the future.
Another AMAZING multi-species day!
Unlimited visibility, flat seas, gray skies, with just a few sprinkles for 2 minutes after leaving the dock - a far cry from the storm/rainy weather to our west. Our first whale was a minke, not far from Montauk Lighthouse. Within 45 minutes we saw 2 other minkes, and then the first of 5 humpback whales. Within an hour we found 3 more minkes, another humpback, and 15 inshore bottlenose dolphins and that was just the beginning. Within the next 40 minutes we encountered 4 more humpbacks and 45 more inshore bottlenose dolphins. To top it off, we found a smooth hammerhead shark on our way back in.
4.5 year old humpback whale (Liner 2016 calf) again!
Today, the fog that had been around for hours lifted and we were able to head out. Our 3 miles of visibility was enough and within 30 minutes after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we found our 1st whale. This was a 4.5 year old humpback whale (Liner 2016 calf) that has been around Montauk for at least 4 weeks. It was busy feeding on prey at the bottom, spending up to 9 minutes down. At one point, it BREACHED right off our port bow (15 week away). An awesome full body breach!
After spending 50 minutes with this whale, we decided to look for others. What we found, unfortunately, was dense fog everywhere. That was it and we decided to head back to port.
An awesome 3 species of cetaceans day
Another great day to be out on the water. 10+ miles of visibility, calm seas, a cool breeze and plenty of sunshine. Less than half an hour after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we came upon a pair of humpback whales giving us plenty of views with short dive times due to large schools of Atlantic menhaden (bunker) at the surface. One even showed off giving us a few peduncle throws. As the Viking Starship continued heading west we found 3 minke whales with one of them giving us a couple of nice views to make comparisons of size and behavioral patterns with the humpback whales we had just seen. Next we saw a large Mola mola (ocean sunfish) just resting at the surface. As we headed further south we found another humpback whale and 30 – 40 inshore bottlenose dolphins. Continuing our trip, we found another minke whale and approximately 20 inshore bottlenose dolphins swimming in the same general area. There we several whale blows off in distance in multiple directions that we just did not have time to investigate. As we headed back to Montauk, we saw approximately 10 dolphins and another minke whale. Later approaching the lighthouse, our original 2 humpbacks put on quite a show breaching and pec slapping filling up customer’s memory cards with many pictures and videos. What a fabulous way to end a great trip.
Another spectacular 3 species trip! Humpbacks, minkes, and inshore bottlenose dolphins!
We couldn't have asked for better conditions - unlimited visibility, 10-15 knot winds out of the NW, and 2' seas that later flattened out as the wind changed to SW. Within 20 minutes of passing Montauk Lighthouse we were on our first whale, MTK.2021.08.15-01, a flipper slapping, rolling humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae). 20 minutes later, we are visited by a small ocean sunfish (Mola mola). 20 minutes later, we meet our 2nd humpback and our 3rd humpback a few minutes after that. 20 minutes later, we encounter our 4th humpback. It's a young whale (small) and has survived an encounter with a propeller that left terrible scars on its left fluke. It was resting periodically and feeding, but it looked to be unwell and weak, or so we thought, due to the tremendous areas of sloughed skin. We ever wrong! Five breaches followed by 10 minutes of flipper-slapping showed how much energy this whale had. Throughout our hours among the humpbacks we encountered 3 different minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). As we headed in, we encountered an aggregation of several small groups of inshore bottlenose, perhaps 45 in total.
What a special day!
Our best trip of the year!!
Once again we had perfect conditions and lots of whales reported to us. 15 minutes after passing Montauk Lighthouse, we saw our first of about 12 minke whales. We encountered our the 1st of 11 humpback whales 30 minutes later! We were able to get close to photograph and identify 6 humpbacks, while the other 5 were seen within a 800 yard radius around us as we left out last whale – we’d run out of time.
What made this trip extra special was that the last whale we were close to (the 2016 calf of Nile) was a true survivor. This young male had been severely entangled in 2900 lbs. of fishing gear and was disentangled via a herculean 4 day effort (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/humpback-whale-disentangled-new-york-all-thanks-team-effort). We were the first vessel to encounter this whale last year 3 weeks after being freed. We saw the extent of its injuries and were glad (as was all involved) to have seen it alive on August 19, 2020. To see it again 364 days later only 4 nautical miles away from where we last saw it on August 2020 was special. To see that the horrendous wounds have healed was even more special. Everyone onboard was elated!
11 humpback whales
Minke whale and ~100-120 short-beaked common dolphins!
So, what do you do on the day before a hurricane is supposed to hit? Go looking for whales and dolphins, of course! The visibility was good, albeit the clouds and sky were gray, while the long, rolling 5’ ground swell was very comfortable. Once again we found our first whale, another minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), right near Montauk Lighthouse. We also saw a blow from a humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) ½ mile away, but that whale didn’t show up again. We headed somewhat offshore to stay in deeper calmer waters. We found no other baleen whales, but were able to spend at least on hour with a large aggregation of about 100 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). The dolphins were amazing, with lots of mom and calf pairs, lots of porpoising, and jumping. These were an aggregation of several social groups, and often some would come over to try and ride of bow. We made no attempts to encourage this behavior, but even when moving slowly, the dolphins came to try and catch a lift in our bow wake. The lucky people along the bow were able to hear these animals vocalize and communicate with one another. What an amazing experience to undergo.
We hope that you weather the storm well and hope to see you out there with us on future trips.
Another multi-species day!
As we left the dock, a young gray seal (Halichoerus grypus)that we'd seen before was swimming around searching for food. Our trip on the oceans started out with a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) that just a few of us saw (we call that a "stinky minke"). We then found a small group (10) of inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and later encountered one large group (50) and another small group (10), about 70 in all. In the interim we spent time up close with a truly "stinky" humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). "Stinky" due to the mildly fetid, funky smell of its blow (perhaps due to a lung infection). Stinky humpback blows are and not that common but truly memorable. The "bait" was abundant often near the sea floor (about 90 feet depth), we saw others blows in the distance, including a massive fin whale blow at least a mile further south, unfortunately we weren't able to fin it after we'd spent our time with the humpback. It was a relatively calm day but warm day, with sea-surface temperatures in the low-mid 70's.
Another three species day, but a long one.
The day started out with an Atlantic gray seal (Halichoerus grypus atlantica)feeding in the waters of Montauk Harbor right behind the Starship as we boarded passengers.
Conditions were excellent as we headed out to the east where humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) had been spotted earlier in the day. We didn’t find that whale, but did find a group of inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), a good start. As we headed south west we came across a few minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and a much larger group of inshore bottlenose dolphins. Late in the trip, our way back in we found a humpback whale! This was a whale we’d fist seen back in early July. It was wonderful to see and made everyone happy, but we returned to the dock 40 minutes. So, it was a long trip but worthwhile.
Baleen whales, birds, bunker, and a bat!
What a great day to be on the water! The weather was absolutely gorgeous with unlimited visibility and calm seas. We spent the first hour cruising near shore in search of whales. Soon, a blow was spotted by one of our volunteers and we observed a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) casually swimming and diving in approximately 50 feet of water. Then things got exciting with a surprise breach in full view of passengers watching from the bow. Shoals of bunker (Atlantic menhaden) were visible at the surface in about 32 feet of water and the whale moved into shallower water to feed. We knew something extraordinary was about to happen when the fish began leaping from the water followed immediately by the lunge-feeding humpback. At this same time, a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) was spotted on the other side of our vessel and was either joined by a second minke or spotted again a moment later. The humpback eventually moved on and so did we, returning along the coast looking for other mammals. Although we did not find any along our path home, we did encounter three different species of shearwater (Great, Cory's, and Manx) characteristically shearing their way across the water, adding to a bird list that already included a northern gannet spotted earlier in the trip. We also had a brief view of a bat (unknown species). With such an amazing and beautiful day on the water and only one trip remaining for the season, it will be sad to say goodbye to summer but we thankfully have many happy memories to keep us warm.
Our last 2021 trip was a winner!
Our final trip for the 2021 season was anopther multi-species day that started, once again, with a large male gray seal in the harbor right behind the Viking Starship.
The conditions at sea were excellent: unlimited visibility, gray skies, and no sun glare. We headed west towards where we'd seen a humpback whale the day before. We found our humpback whale there too.Today's whale MTK.2021.07.28-04 has been seen by us 3 times over the past 5 weeks, a fine example of short-term site fidelity. What a fine way to end this season with another view of one of our 28 humpbacks (including 16 new ones).
CRESLI is a non-profit organization as defined in section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All Contributions are deductible to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of the last financial report filed with the Department of State may be obtained by writing to NYS Dept. of State, Office of Charities Registration, Albany, NY 12231