SANTA CRUZ — Grab your camera and binoculars: There's rarely been a better time to go whale-watching off the California coast.
Tourists from around the world have been flocking to Monterey Bay to catch a glimpse of the massive marine mammals, including impressive numbers of blue whales, the largest animals on earth.
Longtime observers say they've seen a sharp increase in endangered blue and humpback whales feeding near California shores, where they spend the spring and summer before heading to their winter breeding grounds off Mexico and Central America.
"It's phenomenal that these humongous creatures are out there and we just get to go out on a boat and go out and watch them," said Santa Cruz resident Susan Stuart after a recent whale-watching cruise.
What's bringing the whales so close to shore? A bumper harvest of their favorite food: tiny, shrimplike critters known as krill.