Northern Right Whale Dolphins

Scientific Name:  Lissodelphis borealis

When is the best time to view Northern Right Whale Dolphins in Monterey Bay and where is the best viewing?

Northern right whale dolphins can be found in Monterey Bay all year long, especially over the Monterey Submarine Canyon. Monterey Bay is thought to be the best place in the world to view this species. The best time to spot these dolphins is during the summer and fall.

 The best chance of spotting northern right whale dolphins is from one of several whale watching boat excursions leaving daily from Fisherman’s Wharf or Moss Landing. If you’re lucky, a pod may appear to bow ride alongside the boat.


About Northern Right Whale Dolphins

The northern right whale dolphin’s scientific name defines some of its characteristics. Lissodelphis comes from the Greek word lissos meaning smooth and borealis is the Latin word for northern. They travel swiftly through the north pacific oceans taking advantage of their sleek and smooth body type.

Northern right whale dolphins are very fast swimmers that make low-angled leaps out of the water. When sprinting, this dolphin can reach 25 mph and can sustain speeds at 16 mph. Although they usually leap close to the surface, they can be quite acrobatic and playful.

They are often found in close-knit pods of 100-200 individuals. In appearance, these dolphins can be mistaken for a herd of sea lions due to their smooth, streamlined bodies which unlike other dolphins, do not possess a dorsal fin. Northern right whale dolphins may also be spotted swimming in groups with other dolphin species.


Northern Right Whale Dolphin Fun Facts

  •  Capable of leaping over 20 feet
  • Can hold their breath for over 6 minutes when diving for food
  • Can dive underwater to over 600 feet
  • Named after the Northern right whale, neither of which have a dorsal fin
  • Sometimes travel in groups of over 2,000 animals

Habitat: Offshore from California to Alaska and across the ocean to Japan

Length: 6.5–10 feet

Weight: 130–250 pounds

Diet: Small mid-water and deep-sea fish, squid 

Lifespan: 42 years or more

Reproduction: This species is sexually mature at about 9 years of age; gestation of one calf is about one year; females give birth every two or more years during summer months