Whales in Florida

Many people are surprised to learn that there are whales in Florida!

Most people assume that whales live in cold northern waters – which is partially true. But, they also live in warmer ocean regions, including the Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Florida Whale Species

According to marine biologists at NOAA and the Florida FWC, these whales can be found in and around Florida waters:

  • Finback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • North Atlantic Right Whale
  • Sei Whale
  • Sperm Whale
  • Killer Whale (Orca)
  • Pygmy Killer Whale (Oceanic Dolphin)
  • Pygmy Sperm Whale
  • Short-Finned Pilot Whale
  • Melon-Headed Whale
  • Minke Whales
  • Rice’s Whale

Some species merely pass through Florida’s waters and elsewhere in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, while others maintain a long-term presence in Florida waters.

A full list of species found in Florida waters, and throughout the southeast, is available from NOAA.

Best places to see whales in Florida

One of the best places to see whales in Florida is in northeast Florida. 

Various whale species can sometimes be seen just offshore from beaches, specifically around the Fernandina Beach area. 

Other good places for whale sightings include St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, and Vero Beach. 

Depending on the species, whales are sometimes present in the Gulf of Mexico, although in far fewer numbers, so whale sightings are much less common.

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Best time to see whales in Florida

Some whales live in Florida waters year-round, but most are migratory and have strong seasonal migratory patterns.

The best time to see whales in Florida is typically during winter months, from December until April. 

During this time many whale species migrate to warm waters off the coast of Florida to give birth and raise their young calves, before returning north in the spring.