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Warmer Water Leads To More Whales Spotted Along Monterey Bay

MONTEREY (KPIX 5) -- Whale watchers are getting a treat in the waters of Monterey Bay. More marine mammals are being spotted closer to shore, which could be a sign of a big weather pattern to come.

One doesn't have to travel too far out to sea these days to see a pod of humpback whales splashing about in front of you. This spectacle is becoming the new norm, right off the Monterey County coastline.

Marine biologist Giancarlo Thomae captured a pod of whales spouting and swimming right by him on Monday.

"In my 20 years of going to sea, I have never seen the water this warm, for such a long period of time," Thomae told KPIX 5.

The water right now is about 65 degrees, 10 degrees warmer than it should be this time of year.

"El Niño is bringing a lot warmer water here to Monterey Bay. Because of that we're seeing a lot more exotic species here that we usually don't see," Thomae said.

KPIX 5's Betty Yu went out on a sailboat near Moss Landing. About 2 miles from the harbor, Yu spotted about 25 humpback whales surrounding the vessel. Whales were seen spouting and diving within a hundred feet, and the first whale was spotted within a few minutes of leaving shore. It didn't take long to spot a sea lion either.

The sea creatures are all after one thing. "It's all about the anchovies. The anchovies are the Snickers bars of the Monterey Bay," Thomae said. "Pretty much everything wants to eat them."

Thomae said the anchovies are looking for plankton. And so, the whales and other sea life follow the bait right to shore.

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