Monterey Bay live webcams for 2021

The world has changed since starting this annual post on Monterey Bay webcams. Until we’re done with COVID-19, webcams are still a good way to visit the bay or plan your visit. So here are the best coastal webcams for your viewing pleasure starting with the Monterey Peninsula, moving south into Carmel and Big Sur, and then up the coast to Santa Cruz.

The best live cam view of Custom House Plaza, Fisherman’s Wharf I & II and Monterey Harbor is from the Portola Hotel roof in Monterey. This is the only cam on the Plaza —
an iconic downtown hub. The view is especially nice at dawn, dusk and during storms.

MontereyHarborThis old shot shows people in the Plaza. Today’s live view will be mostly peopleless.
I look forward to the time when the area opens and special events return to the Plaza.

The most awesome cam view of southern Monterey Bay is from atop A Taste of Monterey on Cannery Row. The webcam gently scans back and forth between the Intercontinental Hotel and A Taste of Monterey. This is my go-to cam for blissing out on blue-sky days and dark-gray stormy ones. If you visit this webcam, watch closely. On clear spring days you can sometimes see the misty spouts of gray or humpback whales. I’m looking forward to using the water-conditions guidance for when I get back to kayaking.


MBAqWebcamJust down Cannery Row is the Monterey Bay Aquarium with several live webcams, mostly focused on inside exhibits, but the Monterey Bay Cam offers shoreline views with the soothing sound of the surf. The location is perfect for close-up sightings of seabirds, shorebirds and sleepy seals on rocks and beaches. While visiting the Aquarium’s site, check out the cams showing what’s inside.
They’re almost as good as visiting the exhibits in person.

PB18thVenturing south of Monterey, be sure to visit Pebble Beach Resorts’ Golf Cams. There are several, each at a different Pebble Beach Golf Links hole. My favorite is the golf cam at the 18th Green the renowned finishing hole on Carmel Bay. Whether you’re a golf fan or not, the Stillwater Cove view is spectacular.

In Carmel there’s the unpretentious Carmel ClamCam, which works sometimes better than others. I know nothing about the website or sponsor except that this cam provides a long-shot view of Carmel Beach, a beautiful dog-friendly shoreline, that no one else has.

If we continue on our virtual tour, the south end of Carmel — Carmel Highlands —
won’t disappoint with the webcam view from the Tickle Pink Inn. Settled in with
my favorite beverage and I could watch this scene forever.

Turning back north through Monterey along the Monterey Bay coastline to
mid-bay is a lovely working harbor and town called Moss Landing. It’s home to
Elkhorn Slough, the second largest tidal salt marsh along the California coast.
The Slough has two “OtterCams.” What’s wonderful about these secretly located cams is that you never know what you’ll see. Oftentimes it’s sea otters but you may also get sightings of seals, shorebirds and other shoreline life. It’s always a surprise.

North of Moss Landing toward Santa Cruz, is Seascape Beach in Aptos. It’s a lovely beach and images are from Seascape Beach Resort. The focus is off as the camera pans, but you can get a sense of this secluded spot. This webcam (and the Monterey Harbor one) are on HDOnTap, which has live webcams of amazing places (like Donner Lake dusted with snow or an osprey nest in San Francisco Bay). So, if you can’t get outside, and want to visit some place other than Monterey Bay, HDOnTap allows you to take a multitude of virtual  tours.

At the north end of Monterey Bay is Santa Cruz, a lively beach community. The Small Craft Harbor cam offers a shot of the lighthouse and harbor mouth with boats coming and going, sea lions basking on the breakwater, and sometimes surfers catching waves. It also offers other views that you can control (although I haven’t quite figured our how that works). So have fun!

As you visit Monterey Bay vicariously, we hope you enjoy these eyes on the bay.
Wishing you well wherever you are. And looking forward to your return to our lovely area for real.


Walking my neighborhood is always a treasure hunting experience — if I’m mindful and look carefully, there’s much to find. This time of year the warblers are migrating through and the trees and vines are alive with small flitting birds. Here are just a few from this week.

I watched this Townsend’s warbler for about 10 minutes as it dodged in and out and among the pine needles. It looked like a youngster playing hide-and-seek (never hiding very well). It took a while of watching to get the final shot I wanted.

This Lucy’s warbler is not normally here. It’s a small warbler and more common in drier desert regions to our east. It’s been hard to spot. We all know where it hangs out, but don’t often see it no matter how patient we are. Who knows why it’s here, but it’s a treat.

This yellow-rumped warbler is a visitor like the Townsend’s warbler, but it’s larger and appears everywhere right now. I probably have more photos of yellow-rumped warblers than any others. This one seems to be hiding, but that’s unusual. They’re usually flipping off and onto branches making a twipping-like sound. They’re easy to seek.


Curious Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of the curious observers, teachers and scientists working to wow and inform us. Thanks for 2016.

Looking forward to your visual, verbal and written insights about our wondrous world next year. Wishing you well in 2017.

Holiday bird: Cedar Waxwing

The cedar waxwing is my December holiday bird.cedarwaxwing1-cmaparsons

Although many birds visit our area or migrate through in December, cedar waxwings are stand outs for me. The overall look is well-heeled as if ready for a fine event. Yet it’s not quite real — a bit too well coiffed for a bird. (According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the name is from waxy secretions from the wing tips, possibly alluring to mates.)

When a flock drops into a berried tree (they’re true frugivores), each bird delicately picks one berry at a time as would be expected of a well-mannered guest. They’d certainly be welcome at any holiday garden party.




This time of year they’re a wonderful sight — today I was fortunate enough to find a small flock gracing a tree near my office.


Dungeness crabs

During the summer of 2013 I got to know Dungeness crabs very well. (Also see my 2013 post.) For three months, small crabs (about an inch or two across) and crab molts (old shells discarded so the crab can grow) littered the beach I walk regularly. Some days there were a few and some days they were everywhere.



I started tossing them back into the water, but given the numbers, gave up. I found that when I rolled them off their backs and dug a little trench behind them, they would back into a hiding spot in the sand.

This was fun for me and probably better for them than being hurled into surf (I hoped).

I haven’t seen young Dungeness crabs along this stretch of beach since that summer. Populations of crab larvae naturally fluctuate with sea surface temperature, correlated to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Dungeness crabs prefer cooler waters and the lack of beached crabs recently could be related to a warm-water El Niño and the blob off our coast. Another explanation for the excess crabs on this particular beach that year could have been beach nourishment. [During the winter of 2012 – 2013, approximately 7,500 m³ of Monterey Harbor dredge material was used to nourish this critical south Monterey Bay erosion area, according to a Currents 2013 poster by A. Snyder et al.] Who knows for sure?

Why talk about 2013 now? Dungeness crab seasons open this month, and it takes the crabs about 3 years to grow enough to be part of the fishery. The crabs I saw in 2013 are now being harvested.

Last week (November 5), the recreational Dungeness crab season opened along the California coast. It was accompanied by a health warning to fishers catching crabs north of Point Reyes (Marin County) to not eat the viscera (guts) due to elevated levels of domoic acid (a natural toxin produced by single-celled algae). Domoic acid is a powerful neurotoxin and poisoning effects range from nausea to death in birds and mammals, including humans and possibly dogs eating sand crabs at the beach.

This week (November 15), the commercial season will open from Point Reyes (Marin County) south. However, according to California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), the CDFW Director is moving on state health agencies’ advice to close the commercial fishery between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (see CDFW website for related rock crab info). This is also due to domoic acid. (Most of last season was closed for the same reason.)

Update (as of Nov. 24) on open and closed areas from CDFW: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/357812/posts/1234769465 



The good news is that the Dungeness crab fishery is considered sustainable according to CDFW’s 2011 status report. So as coastal waters cool this year during a La Niña, I hope little “dungies” will return this summer to my beach.